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ORIGINAL FRENCH ARTICLE: Front de gauche: week-end de répliques locales à l’austérité

by Julia Hamlaoui

Left Front: a weekend of local responses to austerity

Translated Monday 10 June 2013, by Richard Pond

After the march in Paris on 5th May, demonstrations against austerity and for a Sixth French Republic are being organised in around forty towns, at the initiative of the Left Front.

"We will not miss this opportunity," the leaders of the Left Front [1] had warned in Paris on 5th May, at the time of the march against austerity and for a Sixth Republic [2]. The commitment has been kept, and the first rallies will take place starting this weekend. "That first march energised us - it’s unprecedented to see, one year after the left’s return to power, such a strong mobilisation to call for a change of direction. This weekend, that energy can be expressed at local level," explains Olivier Dartigolles, the Communist Party spokesperson. "We used 5th May as a springboard to explain that we need to change our policy, in other words it’s about an alternative to austerity, and that at the same time we need to change the system, meaning that we need a Sixth Republic," adds Eric Coquerel, national secretary of the Left Party.

On Saturday, Jean-Luc Mélenchon will join the march in Toulouse and on Sunday he will join in at Perpignan - where already, on 5th May, one and a half thousand people protested - while André Chassaigne, leader of the Left Front in the National Assembly, is to go to Marseille where a rally will be held to "rename the rue de la République" (Street of the Republic) to "rue de la Sixième République" (Street of the Sixth Republic), as Pierre Dharréville, Communist Party secretary in Bouches-du-Rhöne, explains. "If we want to shake up the landscape and win a change in policy, that’s also going to happen via local mobilisation," he thinks. In Nimes, too, a square will be renamed. People are already welcoming the fact that appeals from trade unionists, women and key figures have helped to increase the numbers involved. An increase which "is being carried out well" in Picardy too, according to the organisers of the march in Amiens. A public meeting addressed by the Communist MEP Jacky Hénin and the Left Party’s joint chair Martine Billard will end the day there.

Strasbourg, Nantes and Bordeaux are to be the settings for mobilisations of various kinds. Around forty initiatives are expected to take place across France on 1st and 2nd June, according to the organisers, and around half of those will take the form of marches. These various protests also coincide with a rally at the Trocadéro Esplanade in Paris, which marks the extension to this country of the international anti-austerity protests of the "people united against the troika", instigated in France by, among others, the Collectif pour un audit citoyen de la dette publique (the Group for a Citizens’ Audit of Public Debt), to which the organisations of the Left Front are affiliated.

[1a coalition of the Communist Party, Left Party and smaller groups

[2i.e. a new constitution for France

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