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A Candidature to Succeed — The Communists United and Determined

Translated Tuesday 24 October 2006, by Henry Crapo

PCF: Marie-George Buffet is proposed as anti-liberal [1] candidate in the presidential election.
The delegates to the party’s National Conference approve by 80% the strategy for 2007. The objective: to construct a vast assembly of all anti-liberal forces. This decision will be submitted to a vote by all party members in November.

2007: The National Conference of the French Communist Party (PCF), this weekend, proposed by a majority of more than 80% the candidature of Marie-George Buffet to lead an assembly of Left anti-liberal forces in the presidential election.

"Form an immense human chain. We will bring to life the workers’ buried hopes". Marie-George Buffet thus concluded the work of the National Conference of the PCF, early Sunday afternoon in Villejuif, to thundering applause. She had just been proposed as candidate for the assembly of left-wing anti-liberal forces for the presidential election in 2007. The 10 and 11 of November, the party members will be asked to vote on this proposition, which will then be addressed to some 800 collectives for a unitary political force, created already, to date, in 80 of the 100 French departments.

A huge majority adopts the position of the leaders of the PCF

A two-day discussion sets out in detail the chosen strategy

The National Conference, a statutory entity that brings together the national council, the delegates of the departmental federations, as well as the communist members of parliament, dealt definitively with the question "How to prepare for the upcoming elections in 2007". The presidential election occupied most of the debate. The conclusion was the adoption, by a overwhelming majority of a resolution (80.7%), and of the elaboration of a ballot for use in consulting the membership (82.07%).

Those splits predicted by many observers in recent days did not occur, neither over the political framework (an anti-liberal assembly, to which the PCF is totally committed), neither concerning the massively shared conviction that Marie-George Buffet is the most effective person to lead the citizens’ assembly to success in the presidential election, having shown her mettle in the referendum on the European constitution on 29 May, 2005.

The expression of contradictory concerns

This long weekend of debate was not a congress for nomination of a candidate for the Communist Party, but rather a new stage, among others, in the construction of a brand-new political platform on the Left, a new process, more difficult to put in motion.

Two points of agreement appeared from the beginning, for a great majority of the Communist leadership. Firstly, most of the leadership supports the engagement of the party in the overall anti-liberal movement. Secondly, the candidature of Marie-George Buffet had quasi-unanimous support. Despite these points of agreement, the general concensus sometimes regrouped sensibly different positions.

In anticipation of a possible absence of consensus for the candidacy of Marie-George Buffet in the unitary collectives, which will reach their collective decision in a national meeting the 9-10 December, several speakers expressed contradictory concerns. The debate over the formulation of the ballot for the party members was a translation of these concerns. Several leaders demanded that, in their eyes, in order to remove any ambiguity concerning the sincerity of the PCF with respect to its partners in the anti-liberal collectives, it should be clearly stated that the communists pledge to back whomever is eventually chosen as candidate. "We should not give the impression that we are playing lying poker", said one speaker. But such a statement on the ballot would be a sign that the communists themselves are not convinced of the force of the proposition that they advance for debate, the majority decided. Others, to the contrary, wished to replace "The PCF proposes" by "presents", fearing to place in question the "sovereignty of the communists". "They are worried", argued the delegate of one federation.

But finally, as a whole, the National Conference arrived at a more combative vision, formulated as a resolution, "To construct a dynamism fully popular, visible everywhere in the neighborhoods and work places, the militant communists fully engage themselves in the unitary collectives and through initiatives proper to the French Communist Party". This in no way means to impose a candidature, but to convince others that the candidacy of Marie-George Buffet best answers to the criteria defined at the recent meeting of the collectives in Nanterre.

To force open the door barred by bi-partism

As she herself said, Marie-George Buffet, at the conclusion of the work, the objective of the coming campaign is not to bear some token witness, but to change all the bets, to "force open the door barred by bi-partism", she said, refuting the idea of "the Left of the Left" and the theory of "two left wings". The unity that was reflected in the campaign for the referendum on the European constitution shows that anti-liberalism is capable of winning broad support. "We intend to construct a majority on the Left, to change our life."

Marie-George Buffet: "We should declare war on the Right"

At the close of work at the National Conference, Marie-George Buffet notably had to say:

"We measure the unparalleled stakes in the 2007 elections, for the future of our country:
either to slide into bi-partism, with its hopeless succession of alternances, or instead to give rise to a popular alternative to neo-liberal politics. This must be our objective: to construct on the Left a popular and political majority, around a project capable of changing our life. This ambition, I sum up in all my meetings with the simplest of words: to beat the Right, and to succeed with the Left. This ambition is shared well beyond our own ranks. To proclaim such an ambition should appear, I’m sure, politically incorrect with respect to the political scenario that others wish to write for our people. In their film, we are already 48 hours before the second tour of the election, the official candidates are designated, the debating positions are taken, the election is already sealed. But no! We the citizens have not decided. And there are still those who resist, those who build and work in the anti-liberal assemblies, and who are not content to play stand-in roles.

"You have just proposed to the communists that I be a candidate. I also wish to tell you that what I wish, in this fight, at your sides, with all those with whom we work, is to make it evident that there exists in this country a force, a will, to break with the liberal politics carried on these last decades, a will to build, through deep reforms, new social relations, a new conception of citizenship and of work, a new practice of political power. Change, to put it simply. ... Permit me to address all the youth that this society has locked up in misery in their housing projects. The tenants of the established order, who do violence to you every day, are not afraid of burning automobiles. What they fear is the expression of your voices, your struggles. What they fear is what you have done to the CPE [2] It is a democratic uprising, which, by the mobilization of the youth, mobilizes all generations against the world they wish to impose on us. It is perhaps in the name of these youth, and of the less-young, broken and stigmatized, that we must declare war on the Right".

How to prepare the assembly: statements by communist party members

(See related articles on succeeding pages in the French edition.)

Published in l’Humanité on Monday 23 October, page 2, by

[1Translator’s note: liberal, in French, means what neo-liberal tends to denote in English, but, rather than say anti-neo-liberal, I have used the simpler term anti-liberal.

[2Contract for a first employment, defeated last spring.

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