article in revision check out tomorrow….
Hollande crossed the Channel to pay his respect to those in power in the City of London on monday February 13. The Guardian had a reportage describing the discourse of the candidate for the new presidency of France under the heading “François Hollande seeks to reassure UK and City of London” he held a speech in which he denied the colour of his own tie:
Hollande brushed aside suggestions that he was a leftwing ideologue and dismissed comparisons with the initial fear greeting François Mitterrand’s election in 1981. “The 1980s was a different era. People said there would be Soviet tanks on the Place de La Concorde. That era is over, it’s history. It’s normal there were fears then. There had been 23 years of the right in power, the cold war was on and Mitterrand nominated Communist ministers to government. Today there are no Communists in France. Or not many … the left was in government for 15 years in which we liberalised the economy and opened up the markets to finance and privatisations. There is no big fear.”
“… no Communists in France. Or not many…”
Hollande must have thought back to another recent speech where he had the honour of being “enfariné” by a young lady activist: “c’est la risque du métier” (a professional risk), he said calmly a few minutes later.
If his attempt to gain respectability in the eyes of the international financial world will gain him more support than what he certainly will loose by this insult, remains uncertain. A whole social layer in French society exists that may not be, or not any more be a member of the Communist Party of France (PCF), but still feels related to their anti-capitalist stance, certainly in these times of prolonged economic crisis. The trade union movement CGT, once strongly related to the PCF, still is a major social force in France and many of its members may feel insulted by his “No Communists in France” line.
What about ‘Le Front de Gauche’ lead by Jean-Luc Mélanchon, scoring between 6% and 9% in the opinion polls for the French presidential elections since January 2012 (Hollande’s scores are between 28 and 34%). Are they NO Communists? Do they NOT exist?
Hollande seems to victimise himself and his Socialist Party, by using Cold War tactics and rhetoric of social democrat parties, that used to distance themselves as much as possible and as far as possible from anything related to ‘party communists’. After the fall of the Soviet Union most European communist parties that survived have ‘lost their bolshevist teeth in Moscow’ and tend to fare a national and more independent democratic course. If these left over parties of the left want to do something else than just being in the opposition, they need to become allies of the social democrats.
The “not-many” constitute an electoral force that Hollande should not have insulted, a force which he can not allow himself to neglect, will he ever want to end the reign of Sarkozy, prevent Mary Le Pen from getting closer to power or being driven in the arms of François Bayrou.
The Netherlands is a good example what can happen when social democrats keep distancing themselves from parties at their left hand side. It brought a minority government tolerated by right of the centre PVV/Wilders to power. It took the totally frustrated social democrats one year to have their first attempted left wing front meeting (pardon me for the vocabulary of bygone days tj.). When one wants to believe the regular opinion polls on support for political parties in the Netherlands, the dismissed partner of the social democrat party (PvdA), the former maoist SP, will have many more votes than the PvdA itself, when there would be elections today.