The Spark

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

France:
The voters in a supervised democracy

Jun 3, 2002

The following is excerpted and translated from an article from Lutte Ouvriere (Workers Struggle), the revolutionary group in France with whom we share political perspectives. In it LO answers those who criticized it for running candidates who “can’t win.”

Political commentators and leaders of the governmental parties are surprised, indeed they complain, about the large number of candidates in the coming legislative elections. According to them, most of these candidacies are useless because they have no chance to be elected; worse even, they are harmful, because so many candidates will simply divide the vote, preventing democracy such as they conceive it from working. But the legislative elections, just like the presidential elections which just took place, are anything but democratic in the true sense of the term....

The candidates elected from each district represent only a minority of those who have voted in the district. That means that the majority in the new Assembly will not in any way represent the majority of the voters, and still less their opinions and their interests.

Once elected, the Assembly deputies cannot be controlled by their voters, who must wait for the next election to discipline the deputies for what they did or didn’t do. The deputies can turn their backs on their electoral promises, when they aren’t so vague as to be meaningless....

This democracy isn’t deformed by an excessive number of candidates but by all the barriers thrown up to prevent the voters from being represented by men and women who really defend them and who won’t be afraid to denounce what’s done in the Assembly or in its corridors: the deals and the combinations, the lies but also the pressures that a powerful wealthy elite exercises over the political world. They have a much greater say over who will be elected to the parliament and in the government than do the electors.

This electoral system, which was established by de Gaulle, prevents representatives of the revolutionary communist current from being elected. It prevents the representatives of the men and women workers, of the unemployed, of the not-well-off retired people, from making the popular revolt heard inside the Parliament. The democracy of which the party leaders and commentators speak is a truncated democracy, closely supervised. In order for a really democratic representation to exist, representatives of the people should be elected by proportional representation at the level of the country. Moreover, the voters should have the power to recall easily and immediately those they elected and who didn’t keep their word.

Nevertheless, these elections will at least permit popular discontent to show itself. Lutte Ouvriere (Workers Struggle) is presenting men and women candidates in all the districts of the country in order to let this discontent against the policy applied by the left as well as by the right be expressed. Without such a candidacy, some of this discontent would inevitably be pulled into voting for representatives of an openly anti-worker party, directed by the billionaire Le Pen, who campaigns on anti-foreigner, indeed racist, themes.