the Voice of
The Communist League of Revolutionary Workers–Internationalist
“The emancipation of the working class will only be achieved by the working class itself.”
— Karl Marx
May 23, 2022
This article is translated from issue #2804, April 29th, of Lutte Ouvrière, the newspaper of the revolutionary workers group active in France.
Marine Le Pen, the far right presidential candidate in the recent French elections, got a very large majority in the second round of that election in France’s four overseas departments: the Caribbean islands of Martinique and Guadeloupe, the South American colony of French Guiana, and Reunion, an island in the Indian ocean.
She got a very high score, almost 70% of the vote in Guadeloupe; more than 60% in Martinique and Guiana, nearly 60% in Reunion.
Some time back, nationalist militants of the far left prevented Jean-Marie Le Pen [Marine’s father and also a far-right candidate for many years] from landing in Guadeloupe and Martinique, with the assent of the population. This was replayed more recently, before this second round of the presidential election. Just a few weeks ago, Marine Le Pen came to Guadeloupe for the first time. Fifty nationalist and communist revolutionary militants demonstrated in front of the local television outlets and then at her hotel. The interview she was to give did not take place. The organizers of this demonstration did not find supporters from the population outside of their own narrow political circles. What came back to them the most was “you have to let them talk,” then “they should be given a chance, even her.”
Marine Le Pen has been successful in sanding off her father’s sharp edges. The argument of her racism, to which the Black and Indian majority is so sensitive, has carried little weight for some time already. Moreover, with the collapse of the big left parties, the Socialist and Communist Parties, and of the right, the very ideas of right, left and extreme right no longer carry much meaning with the population.
The one point that marked her was her opposition to the sitting president. The same voters voted massively for Melenchon, a “socialist”, who came in first by a very large margin in the first round. These voters gave their votes to Le Pen by a large majority in the second round. For example, the five towns in Guadeloupe that gave Le Pen the biggest votes had given their votes to Melenchon massively on the first round. So, one cannot say, as some do, that the vote for Le Pen was a vote for the program of the National Rally party—far from it. In the second round, there was Macron, and his opponent. The electorate in the Caribbean voted for the opponent.
Anger is very widespread in the heart of the French Caribbean population. The big rises in prices these past few months only reinforced that anger.
Poverty is gaining ground; unemployment varies between 18 and 25%. Delinquency among the youth in the neighborhoods is endemic; a giant desperation looms among the youth. Public services are more and more decrepit: the postal service, and especially running water, especially in Guadeloupe.
The government’s vaccination policy has also played a role in this vote. November’s social revolt in Guadeloupe and Martinique was a reaction to the suspension without pay of thousands of healthcare workers, doctors, and nurses. The government’s only response was repression, reinforcing the sentiment within the population that Macron holds nothing but scorn for them.
That the discontent of a big part of the working population could weigh so massively in the vote for a leader of the extreme right, fascistic, in thick with the racists, allows us to measure the political responsibility of Macron, but also that of the big government parties, both left and right. Those parties and Macron made the bed for the extreme right by increasing the desperation of the population through their anti-worker attacks, and by weakening income.
Among the 50%+ who abstained, there are many who are discontented, who refuse to choose between cholera and the plague. Just as in France.
Happily, the workers of Guadeloupe, Martinique, Guiana, and Reunion have been combative against their exploiters. For example, the workers at Carrefour Market [a company similar to Walmart] in Martinique, who voted for Le Pen, are on strike today.
Their combativeness and their fights represent a hope for the future.