La démocratie exige de conclure : « Dehors ce président et cette Assemblée illégitimes, dehors la Ve République, Assemblée constituante souveraine tout de suite ! »

22 Jun

Communique of the POIDemocratique on the results of the second round

Paris, 19 June 2017
What now?
The National Assembly was elected on 18 June with fewer than two voters in five voting. This situation, unprecedented in the country’s history, occurred after Macron’s election, which was already marked by a record level of abstention and blank and spoiled ballots.
A class “non-vote”
A large majority had their say through a class “non-vote”. In the first round, two out of three workers and two out of three youth abstained or cast a blank or spoiled ballot; this phenomenon was more pronounced in the second round. This class “non-vote” clearly said: we reject the institutions and the policies they serve, the same policies which – from Sarkozy to Hollande to Macron – strike at the workers and the youth for the benefit of the capitalists and the bankers.
Democracy demands that we conclude: “Out with this illegitimate President and Assembly, out with the Fifth Republic, a sovereign Constituent Assembly now!”
This is not what the leaders of the parties and movements that emerged – to varying degrees – from the democratic labour movement are saying. Some of them are calling for the introduction of “an amount of proportional representation”: as if this could change the anti-democratic, authoritarian and Bonapartist nature of those institutions and the role of the rump National Assembly, dedicated to recording and accompanying every decision of the President!
Others are stating that this National Assembly is not “legitimate for taking the decision via ordinances” (1) to eliminate the labour Code…as if such an act of destruction were more acceptable if it came at the end of a “parliamentary debate”! To which can be added Melenchon’s request to the President of the Republic for a referendum on the future Macron law against the Labour Code…which once again amounts to Macron being able to rely on him!
Thus, all of them are staying within the framework of institutions that have been massively rejected, institutions which they are legitimising by calling for them to be reformed to a marginal degree.
It is the Fifth Republic that must be cleared out!
Those who campaigned on a position of “clearing them all out” are today patting themselves on the back for the disappearance of three quarters of the political personnel of the last Parliament. But, strangely, they have stopped being advocates of “clearing out” when it comes to the institutions of the Fifth Republic.
And yet the legislative programmes announced by Macron – on the Labour Code, the Social Security system and pensions – extend and worsen the previous programmes of Hollande and Sarkozy; like the others, Macron’s programmes are dictated by the European Union and the capitalist class. Defending labour rights and democracy cannot limit itself to “clearing out” failed government ministers and members of parliament; in fact, some of them have recycled themselves under new political labels. Defending labour rights and democracy calls for clearing out the institutions. Otherwise, a “clearing out” that focuses on individuals and ignores the institutions would only confirm a line from a famous film (2): “For things to remain the same, everything must change”.
After 18 June, anyone who claims to stand for the working class should come to this conclusion: democratic legitimacy resides in the class struggle organised by the workers themselves to block the government’s plans. On the evening of the second round, Mélenchon declared: “The people of France have at their disposal in the Assembly a consistent, disciplined and aggressive France Unbowed group, and it is this group (…) which, when the time comes, will call on the country to mount social resistance”. How are we to understand this wish to confiscate from the workers their right to organise their class struggle themselves?
How are we to understand this attempt to substitute oneself for the trade union organisations that were built by the workers to defend their demands?At a time when Trump is provoking a direct military confrontation with Syria (and behind it, Iran); at a time when the march to war is spreading to threaten peace throughout the world; what are they saying, all those officials of the groups elected yesterday to the National Assembly? That, one way or another, the war will continue. (3) On the contrary, whoever claims to stand for peace and democracy, whoever claims to stand for the working class, should say: there is an urgent need to open up the path to peace by withdrawing all French troops from foreign interventions.
This rejection is positive
The fact that activists who campaigned for France Unbowed candidates are happy with the number of seats won; the fact that Communist Party activists who feared that their party would disappear from the Assembly benches are reassured by the result; the fact that Socialist Party activists are dismayed by the SP dropping from 320 members of parliament to 29: every one of us can understand all this.
We, members of the Democratic Independent Workers Party (POID), fraternally say to all of them: whatever you are feeling on this election night, do not lose sight of the main point. The main point is that the working class and the youth abandoned the elections. This massive rejection is positive, as it heralds the developments to come on the battlefield of the class struggle.
We members of the POID place at the heart of our activity the fight for the workers’ united front, in other words for helping to achieve unity of the workers and their organisations on labour demands. As far as we are concerned, the only relevant criteria are class criteria.
“There are no supreme saviours…”
We remain faithful to the words of The Internationale: “There are no supreme saviours / Neither God, nor Caesar, nor tribune. Producers, let us save ourselves, / Decree the common salvation.” (4)
Yes, more than ever it is for the workers to decide on the forms and means of their united action together with their organisations. This presupposes specific slogans, and in particular:
• Withdrawal of the programme presented by the government on 6 June and repeal of the El Khomri law;
• Full respect for the Labour Code, rejection of reversing the order of standards and negotiating on an enterprise-by-enterprise basis;
• Return to the 1945 basis of the Social Security system, repeal of the CSG [supplementary social security contribution] and have funding only on a deferred-salary basis;
• Re-establishment of the public services, a return to state monopolies;
• Repeal of the counter-reforms in school education, preservation of the baccalaureate as a national diploma.
It is for the workers to decide for themselves. They are the majority, they are social and democratic legitimacy.
The Second Congress of the Democratic Independent Workers Party is taking place on 24 and 25 June. It will debate the new situation and the POID’s proposals with the delegates representing 72 départements and with non-member labour activists who have been invited.
(1) An ordonnance is a statute passed by the Council of Ministers in an area of law normally reserved for statute law passed by the French Parliament.
(2) The Leopard by director Luchino Visconti, based on Giuseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa’s novel of the same name.
(3) “The war is already pretty terrible, and here it is civilians who are bearing the brunt of phosphorus weapons, and this is unacceptable. There are undoubtedly other means to wage war that are less cruel for the civilian populations (…). I would implore those who are making the decisions to abandon the use of those weapons, even if it means using others”. (Melenchon on 16 June, after the shelling of Raqqa)
(4) Translator’s note: This is the literal English translation of the original French lyrics (written by Eugene Pottier in Paris, in 1871), which are not reflected in the full English version. This says: “No saviour from on high delivers; No faith have we in prince or peer. Our own right hand the chains must shiver: Chains of hatred, greed and fear.” The American version (translated from the French in 1900 by Charles Hope Kerr) is closer to the original in meaning: “We want no condescending saviors / To rule us from a judgment hall; We workers ask not for their favors; Let us consult for all.”

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