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Melenchon: the essential dynamics of the Left comes from the breakthrough of the Left Front

Jean Luc Melenchon dissects the Presidential election result and finds that it is the Left Front that is driving the Left forward

If one totals all the votes of the Right, the fact is they are down.

In 2007, the votes for Le Pen and ]far right] Megret-Nihous added to those of Sarkozy and Bayrou, totalled 23,342,364 votes. In 2012 the same categories garnered 19,550,966. That’s 16% less.

And on our side? In 2007 the total votes for Schivardi [Workers’ Party], Besancenot [New Anti Capitalist Party], Laguiller [Workers’ Struggle], Buffet [French Communist Party], Voynet [Greens], Bové [anti-globalisation campaigner], Royale [Socialists] were 13,377,032. In 2012 it is: 15,701,071. An increase of 17%.

And the other Left? …In 2007, Besancenot, Schivardi, Laguiller and Marie-George Buffet gained 3,300,254 votes. This time in 2012, Poutou [New Anti Capitalist Party], Arthaud [Workers’ Struggle] and I gained 4,599,038. So we progress by 39%.

What to conclude from these figures?

Both sides are becoming radicalized.

The process is very strongly advanced on the Right. To the point that Madame Le Pen is on the verge of reorganizing the Right camp around her. It is an announced and stated objective. In any event, her ideological  victory over her camp is complete. Sarkozy talks like her.

The right-wing press follows the tastes of its customers and in so doing amplifies them. It has begun its extreme rightward shift. This is shown, for example, dramatically, by the evolution of weekly l‘Express where the editorial line “Minute”-style [Minute is a extreme right weekly formerly edited by a Sarko advisor] is accompanied by recruitment from this ideological movement.

If I mention this it is not only because of the blinding fury with which I have been pursued by this newspaper. But because it seems to be the direction taken by a section of the right-wing elite thinkers.

The Republican dike has broken among large segments of the mainstream Right. This is a very bad sign when one remembers the past disastrous experiences of this type. Drieu La Rochelle [a proponent of French fascism in the 1930s, and was a well-known collaborationist during the German occupation] … Brasillach [editor a nationalist newspaper came to advocate various fascist movements and who was executed afer the second World War for collaborating with the Nazis]. There is no point hiding, out of respect for I don’t know what good manners, the downward slope taken by events, or the difficulties which we are facing.

The heart of the Right, that is to say the UMP, has stalled. Its demise is underway. Nicolas Sarkozy loses 1.8 million voters over 2007. The geographical analysis of the results shows that its most loyal and mobilized voters are the big bourgeoisie. There are almost no losses among them: in Versailles 46.5% against 47% in 2007, and he even managed to improve his score in the 7th arrondissement of Paris, where he rises from 56 to 58%, or Neuilly, where he obtained 72.64%. The rich have therefore rallied around their henchman.

But this is a terrible failure, because the beautiful quarters can only govern if the working class neighbourhoods are seduced too.

But Sarkozy’s decline is most spectacular in the most working class sections of the right-wing electorate. He lost 50,000 votes in the Pas de Calais. In the central fiefs of the UMP, the fall is particularly strong: in Saint-Quentin dans l’Aisne… Sarkozy falls from 31% to 25%. And in working-class areas in Marseille and Perpignan or at Meaux…Sarkozy’s support falls from 34% to 27%. This loss is to the sole benefit of the extreme right. The ongoing process which can be read from the figures is that of the far right shift in the Right’s working class vote.

70% of the rise of Marine Le Pen originates with Sarkozy. Transfusion. In Marseille, Sarkozy loses 30,000 votes and Le Pen won 28,000 votes. In Lyon, Sarkozy loses 11,000 votes and Le Pen wins 8,000 votes. In Lille, Sarkozy loses 6000 votes and Le Pen wins 3,000. It is this transfer which is accelerating rather than any breakthrough of Marine Le Pen among new working class voters.

For example in Florange, the commune of the Arcelor-Mittal blast furnaces [threatened with closure], Sarkozy loses 606 votes and Marine Le Pen wins 636…. [this trend is] particularly marked in the north and east of France where the Front National achieves its best scores.

Le Pen has her breakthroughs with workers in places that have seen Sarkozy’s vote collapse: in Tourcoing in the north, Sarkozy loses 4,000 votes and Marine Le Pen wins in 3,000. A similar phenomenon in Vaulx-en-Velin in the Rhone, where 71% of the population is working class: Sarkozy loses 800 votes and Marine Le Pen wins in 700.

In the race with Sarkozy, Le Pen garnered almost the same score as him in several areas: Picardy, Lorraine, Nord-Pas de Calais, as well as Languedoc-Roussillon. Without the efforts of the Left Front to stem the rise of the Front National Le Pen may have been close to eliminating Sarkozy.

The Front National indeed exceeded 20% in 11 regions (one in two) and in 43 departments. But its dynamics are not homogeneous and face in many places the breakthrough of the Left Front. This is the case in Marseille, where Marine Le Pen scored 21% where her father and [extreme right] Bruno Megret totalled 27% of the vote in 2002. She loses 1200 votes from the record made in this city by the extreme right in 2002. And from 2007? She wins back only 28,000 of the 30,000 votes lost by Sarkozy. Meanwhile, the Left Front won 42, 000 votes!

This radicalization has not occurred at the same speed on our side.

It is true that we have been working at it for three years. The Left Front does not dominate the ideological Left. Proof of this was in the IFOP poll: 30% of Francois Hollande voters were reluctant to vote for us. We would have gained nine more points if they had chosen not to be frightened by the frantic 11th hour push over the alleged “useful vote”.

Their level of politicization therefore remained low. We didn’t communicate any political energy to them. These are challenges we will have to address….

Our cause is well underway. Very well underway. With nearly four million votes (11.11%), the ballot of the Left Front has won three million votes from our first European election campaign, three years ago, when we garnered 6.5% of the vote.

Our victory is now well distributed throughout the country. This is a sign that it is a new political force that does not reproduce the old map of its constituent organizations.

The Left Front is at over 7% in all departments without exception in the metropolis [excluding overseas territories]. It gained 10% of the votes or more in 70 departments and more than 13% in 20 departments.

Large cities without strong communist traditions gave us more than 15%, such as Grenoble, Toulouse, Lille, Montpellier or Besancon. Dramatic increases were also recorded where we have had strong campaigns…. And in Alsace. We campaigned openly for the abolition of the Concordat. We increased our score by over 300%. We went from less than two percent to more than seven! In Marseilles, too, the clear and uninhibited speech on the value of mixed race families had mass popular appeal and hoisted the Left Front to nearly 14% of the city and over 20% in several working class northern districts.  Sarkozy lost 30,000 votes and Le Pen won 28,000. The Socialists won 1000 but the Left Front gained 42 000 votes.

Again this was the result of our strategy of fighting directly against the Front National. Vaulx-en-Velin is another good example of a breakthrough of the Left Front in working class districts. Remember that in this city, 71% of the population comprises workers or employees. The Left Front wins more than 2,000 votes. It is the second force in the city with nearly 19% of the vote.

Therefore we can see that the high score of Marine Le Pen is not to our detriment. We advance face to face. Where the Front National is progressing, the Left Front is also progressing. So those are the respective dynamics to be compared to see who is on the ascendancy in society.

For it is as much a radicalization of society as political spaces. This is especially true of blue collar workers. They are far from giving in to Marine Le Pen. Thus in Petit-Couronne in Seine-Maritime where the closure of the refinery Petroplus threatens 900 workers and which all the presidential candidates have visited. Sarkozy loses 249 votes, Hollande wins 114, 436 Le Pen and the Left Front 693. We have thus the strongest growth.

Finally, an example of the place that the Left Front can carve out to face the Right.

The two departments where Sarkozy recorded his worst scores – Seine-Saint-Denis and the Ariege – are also those places where the Left Front did best, with almost 17% and peaks at 25% in many municipalities with a strong working class component.

Note, that unlike the all to rapid initial analysis [of Sunday’s vote], in Florange, the Left Front wins 654 votes, while Le Pen wins in 636, evidently torn away from abstaining. At Audincourt, home to 3,000 workers working at the PSA Sochaux car plants, Sarkozy loses 439 votes and Marine Le Pen wins 376, while we gain 740!

What this means is that we are actually reconstructing the traditional Left. That the process is just beginning makes no difference. The movement is underway.

The current power – a thousand times celebrated – of Marine Le Pen should not stop us looking at its evolution over a long period to compare it to our current momentum. It is a fact and it is alarming: Marine Le Pen won 2.6 million votes compared to the score of her father in 2007. With nearly 18%, it exceeds the historic score of Front National in 2002. But she still cannot match the cumulative scores Megret and her father of 19%. This was the opposite of what was said when the result was announced at the beginning of election night! It is quite in the contrary. This is a pure breakthrough for us. It sets the tone for change that has begun on the Left.

I reiterate, the total votes of Left has increased sharply from the last presidential election. From 13.3 million (36.4%) to 15.7 million (43.7%). This is the best overall score for the Left in a presidential election since 1988.

But Francois Hollande’ score is responsible for only a small part of this progress. The bulk – three quarters – is accounted for by the breakthrough of the Left Front.

Hollande has only added 770,000 votes compared to Segolene Royale. In the fiefs of his most high profile lieutenants, no advances are detectable.

At the Montbéliard home of Pierre Moscovici [MP, former minister], the number of votes for Francois Hollande is down 105 votes against Segolene Royale in the first round of 2007. The Left Front wins over 1000 votes for the Left by working on the ground. In Nantes, the home of Jean-Marc Ayrault [deputy mayor of Nantes and President of the Socialist group in the national assembly] Francois Hollande garners only 78 more votes than Royale. We ensured the Left gained 15,000 more votes compared to the score of the French Communist Party in 2007.

Similarly in Argenton-sur-Creuse, the city of Michel Sapin [former minister and Mayor], Francois Hollande wins only 67 votes against Segolene Royale. At Evry [Mayor] Manuel Valls the number of Socialist Party votes stagnates. In Lille of [mayor] Martine Aubry, he loses votes. Conclusion: the essential dynamics of the Left comes from the breakthrough of the Left Front.

We have provided two thirds of the additional votes on the Left.

This contribution on the Left is very noticeable in the most working class areas affected by the Front National vote. Thus in Cavaillon where 64% of the population are employed workers, François Hollande only garnered 13 votes more than Ségolène Royale. But the Left Front won 1,200 votes! In Marseille, I have already mentioned, it is the Left Front, which has allows the Left to rise from 36% in 2007 to 45% in 2012.

This is taken from the  Jean Luc Melenchon Blog


About revoltingeurope

Writer on Europe's Left, trade union and social movements @tomgilltweets or @revoltingeurope


One thought on “Melenchon: the essential dynamics of the Left comes from the breakthrough of the Left Front

  1. Me voilà vraiment en colère.J’ai choisi François Hollande pour président d’abord parce que je voulais croire ai changement tel qu’il était proposé et à l’élaboration d’une équipe irréprochable. Quel désespoir de découvrir que François Hollande fait le choix en chef du gouvernement Jean Marc Ayrault, qui n’est pas irréprochable. Ce monsieur a clairement était condamné à 6 mois de prison pour magouille de favoritisme. Vraiment décue….

    Posted by Mandy Bastillette | May 14, 2012, 11:07 am

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