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Letter From Strasbourg

Strasbourg, France

I have not had time to read the last issue of IN and the articles devoted to it on the election of Trump. I’m responding rather to your last two emails concerning the political situation in France and, more particularly, the vote for the National Front (FN). The FN has been the first working-class party in France for a long time…if one leaves out the party of abstention. In my analysis of the FN more than twenty years ago, I explained why the workers and, to a lesser extent, state and private office workers, i.e., the bulk of the contemporary proletariat, made up, along with the petty bourgeoisie (artisans, small merchants, liberal professions) the FN’s two voting blocs of predilection. And since Marine Le Pen took over the leadership of the FN (2007), she has only “altered” its language in order to increase and further retain its proletarian electorate (in the above sense). But all this will, nonetheless, not assure an FN victory next year. This is simply because the presidential election takes place in two rounds and is followed by parliamentary elections in two rounds as well. If the election of Marine Le Pen in the second round is within the order of the possible, though highly unlikely, a parliamentary majority for the FN is simply in the order of the impossible. But an FN president without a parliamentary majority is a person reduced to impotence. When the so-called Communist Party was the largest party in France, securing a quarter of the votes and a large majority of working-class votes, it was able to send dozens of deputies to Parliament. The CP was never able to form a parliamentary majority, let alone elect its candidate to the presidency. It could not do so simply because the CP was isolated, having no political alliances (prior to the union with the new so-called Socialist Party) and because the electoral system in France is set up to make it impossible for any political formation, right or left, to attain power except in a more or less broad alliance with other formations. The only chance the FN has of coming to power is an alliance with another part of the right. For the moment, the latter does not want such an alliance and does not need it.