Sunday, May 22

Mélenchon revives hope for a radical left alternative

A few days before the elections, Mélenchon (La France Insoumise) ranks third in voting intentions, with the possibility of going to the second round and facing Emmanuel Macron. The victory of a left-wing candidate with a program of radical ecological, social and democratic transformation would be an essential political signal for the European left

The French presidential elections are being held in a particular context, marked by two years of pandemic, a major international crisis and the risk of very high abstention. Emmanuel Macron and Marine Le Pen have avoided debating and hoped to get through the first round (April 10) with hardly any campaigning, but the rise of Jean-Luc Mélenchon, who now exceeds 15% in the polls, changes the situation. Faced with extreme antisocial liberalism and the extreme racist right, a leftist alternative has a chance of coming to power in Europe’s second economic power.

This situation is not accidental: it is the result of a strategy focused on defending a program, L’Avenir in common (The future in common), which responds to the aspirations of society. The campaign of L’Union Populairethe candidacy led by Mélenchon, politically translates the tremendous vitality of social movements for five years: yellow vests, climate marches, mobilizations against police violence, marches against femicides, trade union defense of pensions, etc.

The in-depth work carried out over the last year with NGOs, intellectuals and citizens has made it possible to draw up a complete, precise, detailed and quantified project, and to form a team capable of governing by putting it into operation. In the face of the anti-Muslim obsession of the extreme right and the neoliberal clichés of the right, L’Union Populaire provides a credible left-wing project, that stands up to the multinationals and the European neoliberal model, and claims the competence and seriousness necessary for the exercise of power.

Mélenchon is restoring the meaning of the word “left” after François Hollande clouded it with the betrayals of his mandate (2012-2017). The weakening of labor legislation, the tax dodges to large companies, the renunciations of the renegotiation of European treaties and the assumption of part of the xenophobic agenda of the right discredited the socialist left in the eyes of voters. But today we have the ability to convince them that a left of social transformation can govern the country keeping its promises.

The campaign of L’Union Populaire it gives a new impetus to the founding themes of the historical social left: the distribution of power, with institutional reform and citizen initiative referendums; the fight against inequality, with taxation focused on the richest and the rise in the minimum wage; and the rights of workers, with retirement at age 60 and reduced working hours. And it also integrates the militant battles that have become essential: the preservation of the Planet, with ecological planning and the exit of nuclear energy; the fight against racism, with an end to impunity for police violence and the rejection of the stigmatization of Muslims; and the feminist struggle, with a plan of one billion euros against sexist and sexual violence and the revaluation of feminized care professions.

Catalysing all these struggles, Jean-Luc Mélenchon is today capable of mobilizing all those who reject the status quo and support radical change. The campaign has been at street level and in all places: cities, towns, outskirts and popular neighborhoods throughout the territory, reviving hope and putting us in a position to win these elections. In addition to the massive meetings with Mélenchon, the public meetings with other figures of La France Insoumise have multiplied, which have managed to gather more people than the acts of the candidates of other parties. The left cannot leave the working classes in the arms of the extreme right, it must recover the streets and public space.

Mélenchon’s victory in France would end decades of privatization, social decay, and ecological inaction. But it would also generate a stir on a European scale. While the authoritarian extreme right is getting stronger and the neoliberals destroy the last vestiges of social protection systems, the coming to power of a radical left in one of the founding countries of the European Union would be an essential oxygen balloon for all European peoples.

The hope embodied by Jean-Luc Mélenchon in France can spread and give impetus to the global movement for climate and social rights.

On April 10 we can and must make history. And then we will need our Spanish, Italian, German, Portuguese, Greek, Belgian comrades… to walk by our side, to achieve the necessary balance of forces to launch the transformation program for which we will be elected.