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ORIGINAL FRENCH ARTICLE: Les communistes veulent M.-G. Buffet et l’unité

by Olivier Mayer

The Communists Want Marie-George Buffet and Unity

Translated Thursday 21 December 2006, by Henry Crapo

PCF: The National Council proposes to confirm the candidacy of the communist leader in the unitary process. The choice will be submitted to a vote by all members on Wednesday.

The National Council of the French Communist Party (PCF) decided to organize a vote by all communist party members next Wednesday 20 December. They should decide between two possible options: that of the National Council itself, which is to maintain the candidature of Marie-George Buffet, "the choice most shared among the collectives". Or to withdraw this candidature in order to look for another.

The decision to consult the communists had been proposed at the opening of the National Council by Michel Laurent. The terms of the consultation and the option chosen by the bureau of the PCF were formulated after two days of debate, at the end of which the Communist Party affirms its "will to continue with the construction of the anti-liberal assembly" and reiterates the propositions formulated by Marie-George Buffet for a collective candidature and campaign. In particular, she would take leave of her responsibilities as general secretary of the party.

The desire to find solutions

Since Sunday 10 December, after the blockage of the meeting in Saint-Ouen, the bureau of the PCF has desired to take the pulse of the party, calling for the communists to meet in general assemblies of the sections and departments. The members of the National Council thus collected what is being said. "Anger", "bitterness", "disappointment", what a waste", "dead end", "denial of democracy", for the most part, those quoted blamed the blockage on the refusal of the organizations and political currents making up the assembly to take into account the majority expression of the collectives. But foremost, it is "the search, the willingness to listen, and an acceptance of responsibility, which marked these meetings, affirms Amadou Deme, a party leader from the Essone. "With the desire to find solutions in which there can be preserved both the unity of the party and the superb adventure of the collectives, which we want to preserve."

Even while the choice to turn to the collectives in order to confirm the choice of Marie-George Buffet "is the majority opinion in the party federations" — it appears to be the choice of some two-thirds of the federations, indicated Michel Laurent in his report —, several speakers reported a "party split". "Personally, I evolve in one direction, then the other", explains the leader form the Essone. Brigitte Dareau, from the Hauts-de-Seine, remarks that the same communists express both their certainty with respect to the choice of Marie-George Buffet and their doubts concerning the possibility, under these conditions, to preserve the assembly.

Remove the obstacles to blockage [1]

Divergences from the strategy decided at the 33rd Congress have not disappeared. "Don’t ask me to see in this situation a confirmation of the choices we made in the Congress", affirms Nicolas Marchand. "The dangerous situation into which we have been led should lead us to a future critical reevaluation, even if that is not on the table today," he explained, while declaring himself in favor of maintaining the candidature of Marie-George Buffet. Michel Rica, from the Loire-Atlantique, believes, for his part, that "the party is responsible for the blockage because it accepted the double consensus".

For the most part, however, the communists declared themselves "attached to the reasonableness of their unitary policy", as Jean-Louis LeMoing of the Executive Committee observed. For him, "this policy is henceforth an integral part of the communist engagement". It is thus in this sense that the communists have searched for a way to remove obstacles now blocking the way. Many emphasized that the choice of Marie-George Buffet is based on the majority will to unite and change the political situation on the Left. "The blockage is less a question of the candidature than that of strategy for the assembly," explains Patrick Voir, from the Isère. If we cut back on these essential questions in order to play for unity at any cost, we are heading for defeat", he insists.

Many speakers tie this ambition to the urgency to open the campaign of the anti-liberal Left. Over and above the present blockage, many emphasize the benefits obtained from the process undertaken in the launching of this campaign.

Noone, among the speakers at this National Council, proposed withdrawing from the unitary process. And as Marie-George Buffet herself did (see her interview),
several speakers affirmed their desire to continue with the collectives. Then how to continue forward? To maintain the candidature of Marie-George Buffet is, according to Pierre Zarka, a bad deed with respect to the people and the anti-liberal assembly, and suicide for the party". "Do we need to have a communist candidate in order to play our role?", insisted Isabelle Lorand. But most of the speakers, in testimony concerning the meetings of collectives and communist assemblies, stated that neither Yves Salesse nor Clémentine Autain could produce a consensus. Communist leaders, like François Jacquard from the Ardeche, instead feel that "if there is no new offer, we choose rupture", or André Greder, from the Tarn-et-Garonne, "we should seize the proposition of another candidate coming from the Communist Party." Jean-Marie Doussin, from Seine-Saint-Denis, and others, evoke the candidacy of Françis Wurtz, "I’m not candidate for anything, and I’ve supported the candidature of Marie-George Buffet from day 1", affirms the Euro-deputy, who calls for a candidate chosen by debate at the base, among the people.

Saturday morning, the daily newspaper Libération wrote that this proposal had been tried out by the leaders of the PCF, and that "it was a failure", an opinion not shared by Jean-François Gau. He considers that it "is a false window, that complicates rather than simplifies the task. It would open the possibility of a new candidature from on top, and set off negotiations among the party leaders, out of reach of any democratic control, and would have every chance of leading to the same blockages." Several speakers shared these reservations concerning the proposal, among whom, Marie-George Buffet, who stated that "this solution is not one to be refused out of hand". Christian Martin, from the Sarthe, asked whether the central committee had been officially presented with this proposal. "Other than the very general formulation that appeared in the minutes of the meeting in Saint-Ouen, I have received no nominative proposals from our partners", responded Marie-George Buffet. Patrice Cohen-Seat affirmed that, on Monday, at the meeting of political organizations in the assembly, or on Tuesday, at the meeting of the national collective, "if some new proposals, new facts, create an clearly novel situation,
the communists will be immediately informed, and the National Council will meet again.

It is on the basis of this discussion that the National Council finally adopted a ballot for the vote (116 in favor, 25 against, 15 abstentions, 2 refusals to vote) that will be submitted to the communists everywhere in France on Wednesday. Henceforth with the objective to get the communists in motion quickly. Most speakers agreed, it is urgent to get the campaign moving. The landscape of the presidential campaign is almost in place, but with no representative of the anti-liberal movement, affirms Michel Laurent. And for Olivier Dartigolles, "every day that passes is a day too much".

See also:

— The Ballot Distributed to Party Members

— We Want to Continue

— A Decisive Week

— Resignations

[1Translator’s note: This title seems to be in error in the original. What the author surely meant was "Remove the obstacles that create this blockage".

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