The new centrist and neoliberal party, la République en Marche (LREM), is only 14 months old, but it was still able to field candidates in all of France’s 577 election districts for the National Assembly and win a solid majority of 308 seats on June 18. Another center-right party and a solid ally of LREM won 42 seats.
This LREM majority is going to let the new president, Emmanuel Macron, elected earlier this spring, push through two major projects: thoroughly revising France’s labor law to make it easier to fire workers and harder for workers to organize and protect the rights they have won in the past.
Macron says he will give the cops permanent authority they now have under France’s state of emergency laws — to impose house arrests and to search homes, offices, phones and computers without a judge’s order. The large West and North African and Arab communities in France are particular targets of these measures.
Two-thirds of French workers, according to Le Monde, abstained from voting in parliamentary elections — and not because they assumed LREM would win and represent their interests. Two workers’ parties — the French Communist Party (PCF) and France Unbowed (FI) — did better than expected.
Jean-Luc Mélenchon, the leader of FI, spoke June 18 in Marseille where he was elected to the National Assembly. He characterized the abstentions as a “civic general strike” and proclaimed that the struggle was not over.
Historically, French workers have not relied on elections but taken their protests to the streets with mass marches and general strikes. Sometimes the workers win; sometimes they lose. But the French bourgeoisie usually know they have been in a serious struggle.
Only two of the 577 candidates LREM fielded were workers, according to Le Monde, which carefully examined all of their profiles. Even though over half LREM’s candidates were women and a surprising number were from France’s Arab and African communities, most were executives, small business owners, professionals and intellectuals, graduates of France’s top schools. Half of LREM candidates were under 47, again unusual in France. (June 8)
The French Socialist Party held 280 seats in 2012, but won only 30 in this election. Even though it has been a major French party since World War II, the Socialist’s future is shaky.
The French neofascist party, the National Front, which came in second in the presidential race with a third of the votes, only managed to win eight seats, though early projections estimated it would win 50.
Only 25 percent of the representatives in the National Assembly before this election managed to hold onto their seats. The French political scene has been thoroughly disrupted. Despite this, the basic role of the French state –- to suppress French workers and promote French imperialism – hasn’t changed.