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No Pasaran Youth against Racism in Europe magazine: Issue 11, Summer 2003

Working class movements threaten the far-right in France

It is a year after the French presidential election which saw mass demonstrations on the streets of France against Le Pen, leader of the Front National (FN), a far-right nationalist party. Le Pen had got through to the second round of the presidential election. Virginie, a teacher in France who helped launch Resistance International (the group affiliated to International Socialist Resistance in France), spoke to Anna from the YRE on the effects the FN have had on French society since these elections.

What is the situation of the FN a year after the French presidential election?

The FN is not visible in France. They can not be seen campaigning on the streets. Despite the increase in people who openly say they vote for or support them.

What type of people support the FN?

The working class, particularly those who have been unemployed for many years. Many of whom used to vote for the far left, i.e. the communist party, who have become disillusioned and feel betrayed.

What effect has this had on the government’s policy?

The government have threatened the ordinary people saying it is ‘us or them’ (the FN) in order to carry out their own right wing policies of cutting public services, social security, and pensions. The Chirac government was careful for the first month after its election at the end of May as their support in the first round was 19% - the lowest ever vote for a presidential candidate who went through to the second round.

What effect has the recent strike movement had on the FN and the support they receive? And what is the movement about?

The recent strike movement is opposing the government’s plans to align public service workers pensions with the private sector. Hence to increase the number of years the public sector workers have to work from 37 _ years to 40 years. This reform’s intention is intended to lead to an increase in people buying pensions in the insecure stock market whilst diminishing publicly provided pensions. The other issue leading to a strike was the proposal to decentralise education enabling schools to have responsibility for their budget etc.

The FN have been completely absent from the strikes as they are unable to publicly declare their real position. They have proposed worse measures than the government and have endorsed the government’s policy. Such as increased working hours and increasing the age of entitlement for a pension from 60 to 65 years. The strikes are a big problem for the FN as a big part of their support comes from the working class who are striking, on the streets. They dare not attack the working class whilst it is able to organise and mobilise so effectively and defend its own rights and interests.

The FN is aware that a big part of their voters may not vote for them in the next election.

However none of the main parties are proposing any alternative as the Parti Socialiste [the equivalent of the Labour Party in Britain] said they favour the governments proposed pension reforms. Thus the working classes are unable to trust or rely on them.

It is crucial that the anti-fascist movement link up their campaign with the working class movement to fight for decent housing, jobs and pensions not racism.

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