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France

On President Hollande’s New Year bomb

IN THE RADICAL PRESS / HUMANITE 

By Patrick Apel -Muller

François Hollande’s New Year message  did not mark a political turning point, which came just a few months after his election, but it expressed his right turn without any attempt at camoflauge. Priority is to be given to the demands of big business, austerity for the French, and cuts to public spending…
Within hours of New Year’s Eve,
the president of [employers’ association] MEDEF, Pierre Gattaz was “satisfied”, he “even applauded.”

This is not the case for the majority of French
 who see a disturbing picture for 2014, with a rise in VAT, the most unfair tax since it proportionally weighs heavier 
on vulnerable households. This programme is a far cry from meeting the promises [Hollande made at January 2012 Presidential campaign rally] in Bourget, and equally far from what the Socialist Party (PS) decided
 at its last congress. The President of the Republic 
decided to change the PS against its will, against the votes of the PS representatives, using his Presidential powers against MPs. His parliamentary majority is bound to him, he repeats in confidence, and should it rebel it will sink with him. Will this blackmail be binding on all
 consciences?

This is not certain. If some of his friends prefer not to see 
this drift into the murky waters of  
Tony Blair or Gerhard Schröder, others are openly worried. This is the case of Delphine Batho, the former Minister of the Environment, fired for criticising the budget : “A word has disappeared, that of change. It is a kind of ideological shift…. I am quite surprised that this development does not raise more questions. This is deeper than the opposition between right wing and left wing [of the party], there is no longer any social project, any objective at transforming society. ”

In fact, for many socialist or Green (EELV) activists and voters, engaged daily in trade unions or associations in order to change lives, 
it is the sudden change that has shocked them, that varnish 
of realism which masks the political abandonment…  Will the President of the Republic decide to legislate by decrees and Presidential orders to avoid speaking to the different voices in Parliament and to reduce possible popular opposition?

For many who still dream of justice and equality, the shock means less militancy and fatalism. No doubt they will respond to anti-Semitic [comic] Dieudonné, and the brown-shirted threats that loom. But they are also lucid enough to measure what fuels 
the despair that feeds this hatred. They know of soaring profits and cash stashed in safe havens as the push to slash the “cost of labour” is unleashed – that is to say, a relentless pressure on pay. Those who earn their living every day are the losers… Trust in politics crumbles and the meaning of words disintegrates.

Thus now commences the real work for the Front de Gauche (Left Front) to build an alternative. In endorsing popular concerns,
 showing how to do new things,  from 
top to bottom, uniting good will while respecting differences, allowing the popular movement to decide for itself how to transform society, constantly seeking to build majorities, we will build a collective project and hope for the future.

Translation by Revolting Europe

About revoltingeurope

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

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