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ORIGINAL FRENCH ARTICLE: L’espoir au rendez-vous des antilibéráux

by Jacqueline Sellem

Hope is Present at the Meeting of Anti-liberal Forces

Translated Tuesday 12 September 2006, by Henry Crapo

The 2007 elections: The representatives of local unitary collectives, meeting yesterday in Saint-Denis, came to an agreement on strategy, on concrete actions, and on a calendar.

"Impressive". Sunday in Saint-Denis, before an overflow assembly at the Bourse du Travail (union meeting hall), given the quality of listeners’ attention and of the debate, this word was on many persons’ lips. Arrived in Saint-Denis from the far corners of France for an anti-liberal meeting and to put in motion the selection of common candidates, in the wake of their victory in the debate over a European constitution, representatives of more than 450 local collectives were conscious of the importance of what was at stake. That is, the construction, by way of the upcoming elections, of an anti-liberal political force capable of beating the right wing and bringing about a real political change. The construction of an anti-liberal unity which, as Claude Debons, of the national collective, said at the beginning of the meeting, "opens a new road on the Left". All agreed that the militant dynamic characteristic of the meeting (at which Marie-George Buffet and José Bové were present all day), together with the convergence achieved in the texts adopted to define strategy and policy, prove that the aims are henceforth achievable. Appeals to a spirit of responsibility, not to spoil what has been built, were many, as were calls to be vigilant with respect to the calendar, to recognize the need for "visibility" of this common ambition, necessary to pass from the level of dynamism of militants to dynamism of the citizenry.

A Collective of spokespersons, and a calendar

While there was universal agreement on the principle of a collective of spokespersons, on the model of that initiated by Marie-Goerge Buffet during the campaign for the referendum, many participants in the debate pleaded that this be put in place rapidly. "If we don’t respond now to public impatience, we will lose the people. It is urgent to be regrouped now for the battle to come," insisted the representative of the collective of the Rhône.

Act quickly, but sweep nothing under the rug, this was the dilemma that the participants in this day-long meeting in Saint-Denis had to resolve, putting on the table all the questions, even the thorniest. To begin with, what position to have with respect to the Socialist Party. With near unanimity the hall refused to follow Pierre-François Gris, of the LCR (Ligue Communiste Revolutionnaire) that the indications on this point in the strategic text were unsatisfactory. This attitude was considered negative by some, remarkably including certain representatives of collectives who are themselves members of the LCR. Like Christian Piquet, for example, among those who judge positive those clarifications that had been brought to the new text.

No exclusion

There should be no exclusion of voters, several participants emphasized during the debate, recalling the essential role of socialist militants and voters in the victory of the "Non" on the constitutional treaty the 29th of May, 2005. René Revol, one of the organizers of the meeting, along with Jean-Luc Mélenchon of the association PRS ("Pour un République sociale") and member of the PS (Pariti socialiste), did not vote for the Socialist platform, but, in his words, "to say that the platform of the PS is entirely neo-liberal is an absurdity". "The Socialist Party is torn by contradictions", he emphasized, recalling that the task should be to manage that "the a majority of the Left be anti-liberal". "To present merely a token candidate will mean that we have lost the battle", he insisted. For Jean-François Gau, member of the council of the PCF (French Communist Party), it is essential to open another road on the Left, because "five years of a left-wing government that does not make a break with neo-liberalism would be an unsupportable burden for our people." To dictate that "nothing is possible, so long as the balance of forces is not changed, breeds pessimism, kills hope", he insisted, emphasizing that the strategic text aims to "create a dynamic that changes the balance of forces and destabilizes bi-partism".

A trap to avoid

Another question faced squarely: that of common candidates, and in particular, for the presidential election, which name to put on the ballot. Marie-George Buffet and José Bové have already declared themselves ready to carry that banner, and at the meeting in Saint-Denis, Clémentine Autain, assistant to the Mayor of Paris (allied with the PCF), put forward her candidature. According to some, it is essential to exclude all heads of party as candidate, arguing that this will avoid a situation in which one party seeks to recuperate the general effort to its own advantage. This was a position developed by José Bové, among others, in the press of recent days, but in Saint-Denis he preferred to soften his stance. This is a position that other participants, such as the spokesperson for the collective from Bègles, judges "not acceptable". "At a moment when we seek to reconcile citizens with politics, such an exclusion is devalorising for political engagement and non-productive for unity," in her opinion. The present constitution leads to concentrated power in the presidency and a tendency to personalization of the position. This is a trap that we must avoid, emphasized many participants, proposing that it is essential to think ahead both to the presidential and legislative elections, to make sure we emphasize the role of the collectives, to continue to deepen and valorize the citizen’s role and the content of the alternative program: "If we adopt these texts today, the name of the candidate will no longer be the most important question", in the opinion of Eric Coquerel, of the organization MARS.

Translator’s note. Related articles:

A provisional group of spokespersons

"We want it to change, and really to change"

The decisions taken in Saint-Denis

Our engagement is an encouragement to unity

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