The Paradox of 23 April

27 Apr
Workers’ Tribune Issue no.86 – Editorial

By Daniel Gluckstein

Where is the paradox of 23 April?

The rejection that was expressed has a class content. The El Khomri law, counter-

reforms, lay-offs, privatisations, cuts in public services, state of emergency, anti-union repression: it was the anti-worker policy of the Hollande-Valls government (and the previous governments) that was massively rejected.

But this class content is not represented by either of the two candidates in the second round.

There are two explanations for this.

The first is immediately obvious: division. Hamon and Mélenchon could have changed things by agreeing on a single candidacy for the repeal of the El Khomri labour law. They refused to do so. They bear the responsibility for a Le Pen/Macron second round.
The second explanation has to do with the very nature of the Fifth Republic. To those who — worried about (or condemning) abstention — solemnly remind people that the ballot is a democratic gain, the workers and youth are entitled to reply: can democracy be reduced to choosing a king, one who of course does not wear a crown but who has full powers, notably the power to impose the programmes dictated by the capitalists, the bankers and the European Union?

No, clearly not.
If democracy is the power of the people, then it should be a sovereign Constituent Assembly that defines the form and content of that power. Without limitations: in a sovereign Constituent Assembly, the representatives of the people, elected on a fully proportional basis from the electoral lists, must be able to take all the measures called for by the situation, including a ban on lay-offs and privatisations, the confiscation of bank assets to apply them to the needs of the population, or a stop to the wars that are sowing devastation throughout the world.

The Fifth Republic has been struck a fatal blow. The two parties that have governed for almost 60 years have been eliminated from the second round. Macron is a Bonaparte by default, to whom the ruling circles of the capitalist class (together with the institutional left) are rallying under duress (until when?). His future government could only “hold out” by relying on a version of national unity that includes the trade unions . . . which is difficult to achieve.

The fact remains that, although having been struck a fatal blow, the Fifth Republic will not fall by itself. It is up to the working class, preserving the independence of its organisations and achieving unity on its demands, to open up the path towards the Constituent Assembly, delivering the final death blow to the Fifth Republic and breaking with the European Union.

On the evening of 23 April, we heard the main candidates call on “the patriots” or declare their love for “the homeland”. Such references erase the borders of class, since both the workers and the bosses, the exploited and the exploiters, are equally supposed to be “children of the homeland”.

Our choice is The Internationale over The Marseillaise, the red flag over the tricolour.

In the approaching class struggles, more than ever, the time has come to build a genuine workers’ party.

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