The Spark

“The emancipation of the working class will only be achieved by the working class itself.” — Karl Marx

After the second round of the French presidential election

May 13, 2002

On May 5 the French voters had a choice between Jacques Chirac, the current president of France and candidate of the major right wing party, versus Jean-Marie Le Pen, the candidate of what’s known as the extreme right. This run-off – or second round – was highly unusual in that Le Pen had squeezed into it past Lionel Jospin, the expected finalist. Le Pen had scored 17.2%, only one% more than Jospin registered in the first round. Le Pen had never before made it into the final round, and this triggered a call for support for Chirac, encouraged by the the Socialist Party and the Communist Party. In the second round, the vote was 77.8% for Chirac, 16.8% for Le Pen, while 5.4% cast a blank or void ballot.

The following is a translation of the May 6 editorial appearing in workplace newsletters of Lutte Ouvrière (Workers Struggle) our comrades in France.

As was absolutely foreseeable, Le Pen didn’t get more votes on the second round (the run-off election) than he and the other extreme rightist Mégret got on the first round.

This means, first of all, that Le Pen would have very easily been defeated with the votes of the right wing alone, which had received double Le Pen’s vote on the first round.

In fact, Le Pen made it into the second round, not – as has been said – because he got many more votes this year on the first round. He received only two hundred thousand more votes than in 1995. He made it into the second round because Jospin’s policy as head of the government caused Jospin, the Socialist Party candidate, to lose two-and-a-half million votes since 1995.

The leaders of the left have prostituted themselves for nothing, voluntarily helping Chirac to be elected president with by far the highestpercentage of any president of the Fifth Republic. Even Charles De Gaulle’spercentage was never this high. It’s sad that the leaders of the left elected by a landslide a man of the right like Chirac.

The leaders of the left thus demonstrated that the governmental left and the governmental right resemble each other much more than they differ from one another.

The leaders of the left inflated the Le Pen balloon, knowing perfectly well that Le Pen had no chance of winning on the second round – far from it. They waved the scarecrow of Le Pen, making people believe that he might be elected. They raised the specter of a fascist victory, though in the present situation it was only a phantom, even if the ideas of Le Pen carry over from fascism.

Shamelessly lying about the reality of seeing Le Pen elected, the leaders of the left tried to appear at the front of popular combat, hiding the fact that there were no stakes to this battle. Above all, they hid the fact that they were going to elect by a landslide a man who defended and perhaps would apply all or part of the ideas and the program of Le Pen.

The campaign that they led in favor of Chirac was as disgraceful as it was useless and artificial, which of course they well knew.

For our part, we refused to go along with this campaign and refused to lower ourselves to call for a vote for Chirac. We are often accused of always defending the same program, but we are proud of being firm in our ideas and of not changing sides when the first occasion arises.

What the world of labor lacks is a party which defends the political and social interests of the workers, and which therefore combats the ideas and the lies of capitalism’s defenders, whether they be on the right or the left. That means a party which at every instance tells the truth.

Chirac is an enemy of the workers. Those who called on the workers to vote for him betrayed the world of labor, to the profit of a man who will carry out the policy of big capital, that is to say, who will further impoverish the popular classes.

Abandoning the interest of the popular classes, the Socialist Party and the Communist Party will not recover the four million votes that they lost between 1995 and 2002 when they were in the government.

This article was signed by Arlette Laguiller, the Presidential candidate of Lutte Ouvrière