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ORIGINAL FRENCH ARTICLE: « La question du cap ne peut plus être esquivée »

by Lionel Venturini

“The Question of Economic Direction Can No Longer Be Dodged”

Translated Friday 5 September 2014, by Gene Zbikowski

Socialist senator Marie-Noëlle Lienemann, who has written to Manuel Valls, believes that the executive branch can only soften its economic policy henceforth.

Interview done by Lionel Venturini.

Does this summer of 2014 mark a new political period in François Hollande’s five-year term as president?

Marie-Noëlle Lienemann: One senses that the government is trying to dodge the left-wing debate on its economic policy. There is a broadening of the front of those who want a different policy, with a whole series of levels of demands, which go from softening to re-orientation. The question can no longer be dodged. Everyone can see that the institutions of the Fifth French Republic can create the illusion that one can do without political backing – that isn’t going to last for long. Based on that, the French, who are sufficiently aware that the policy being conducted is not the right one, also have a need for the counter-proposals to be made credible. The outcome of the auditions done by the Left Future club in July (see L’Humanité’s July 11 issue) seem to me to be an interesting basis so that the debate on what we might do together will now become the big question around which to convince and unite people. It is still necessary to make some effort to convince the ecologists more, and to reach out to the communists; but you can see that the framework of an upwards-oriented, balanced accord is possible. This is both reassuring, and at the same time it will be necessary to go on to the stage where we are both critical and bearers of common counter-proposals.

Isn’t this the difficulty with which the “dissidents” are confronted? – They number a hundred when it is a matter of signing an appeal for a reorientation of economic policy, but they number only thirty when it is a matter of abstaining from voting the amendment to the finance bill that validates the responsibility pact.

Marie-Noëlle Lienemann: It’s different, what separates the deputies is less the common proposals that we might make than the idea that we must not make the government overly-fragile in a bad situation. Some of those who have not followed the “dissidents” fear sparking off a political crisis in the governing majority. Except that a reversal of the economic situation is not happening, deflation is materializing from one day to the next; neither Françoix Hollande nor Manuel Valls can be permanently blind to the situation.

You’ve just written him an open letter following the partial censure of the responsibility pact, with other leaders of the Now The Left tendency. What makes you say that the responsibility pact is henceforth outdated?

Marie-Noëlle Lienemann: It’s not so much the Conseil constitutionnel [a kind of Supreme Court] that is determinant in this matter, it is rather what the government said before leaving on holiday and which it again repeated this weekend: that the return from holidays will be alarming, growth very weak, and that unemployment will continue to rise. Manuel Valls’s opinion was that there were guarantees of social equity and of a relaunching of purchasing power in the responsibility pact. This argument no longer holds today with the censure emitted by the Conseil constitutionnel, and consequently the responsibility pact has got to be suspended.

As a result, will the conference of the Socialists in La Rochelle purr or growl?

Marie-Noëlle Lienemann: Lots of things can happen. I expect a lot from the final plenary session on the uniting of the forces of the left, which I will preside, and in which Jean-Christophe Cambadélis, Pierre Laurent and Emmanuelle Cosse will participate. It will then be necessary to say things frankly on the conditions and the content of unity, things that are neither a ukase nor an electoral every-man-for-himself.

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