electoralism and crisis in the nouveau parti anticapitaliste

Ramate Keita reports from Paris on the cracks in the NPA’s electoral left unity strategy

Next March will see regional elections in France. These will elect the “regional assemblies” which control the budgets for transport, education and welfare. In the 2004 regional elections the [neo-liberal social democrat] Parti Socialiste won Paris and the majority of regions. At that time there was a Trotskyist alliance of the Ligue Communiste Révolutionnaire  and Lutte Ouvrière which in spite of calls for a “pragmatic vote” secured one million votes. It was a pole for independent working-class politics.

In February we commented on the creation of the Nouveau Parti Anticapitaliste. The LCR called for the formation of this party, and we said “that the stamp the leadership is making on the NPA is a dangerous ambiguity, marked by uncertainty and political and programmatic confusion, and more an electoralist project (with one eye fixed, in the immediate, on the coming European elections) than a tool for revolutionary class struggle”. Continue reading “electoralism and crisis in the nouveau parti anticapitaliste”

solidarity, power, direction: lessons of france’s 19th march strike

Pete Jones reports from Paris on the 19th March strike day

Three hundred and fifty thousand people (according to organisers) marched on Paris on Thursday March 19th to vent their frustration at Nicolas Sarkozy’s mismanagement of and complicity in the current economic malaise. Paris factory workers also used the day to picket their workplaces, hoping to put further pressure on the government following a month of factory closures thanks to industrial action.

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The march from République to Nation in the unseasonably warm sunshine was very pleasant but its final relevance is up for debate. In contrast, the day’s demonstrations finished with limited but significant rioting at Place de la Nation. Following a series of seemingly arbitrary arrests around five or six hundred youths confronted police chanting ‘Release our comrades!’ and throwing bottles and metal grills. The police responded by firing tear gas to clear the packed Place, eventually arresting around 300 people of whom just 49 will be charged. Continue reading “solidarity, power, direction: lessons of france’s 19th march strike”

the nouveau parti anticapitaliste’s take on the crisis

On the weekend of 7th-8th February a new far-left party was formed in France, as 700 delegates representing 9,100 members held the first congress of the Nouveau Parti Anticapitaliste. It was created at the instigation of the Trotskyist Ligue Communiste Révolutionnaire and its semi-autonomous youth wing Jeunesses Communistes Révolutionnaires; the ex-Lutte Ouvrière minority faction l’Étincelle; a few other small groups, and thousands of previously unaffiliated individuals, many of them partisans of the anti-capitalist movements of the last decade. The moves coincide with the 29th January national strike day, and ongoing general strikes in the French-owned islands of Martinique and Guadeloupe.

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The new party initiative, coming off the back of the LCR’s 1.5 million votes in the 2007 presidential race, has roused significant interest in the French media, and its election candidate Olivier Besancenot has become somewhat of a celebrity. It might be said that the NPA is the revolutionary group in Europe with the strongest hearing, repeatedly winning double-digit support in the polls, and its increased size, relative internal democracy and ‘openness’ as well as its radicalism and uncompromising hostility towards the idea of coalition government with the Parti Socialiste are to be welcomed.

But this rapid growth and the thrusting of one leading figure into the media spotlight creates significant political concerns as well as the positives of increased publicity. The LCR and its sister organisations around the world only a few years ago advocated ‘broad parties’ refusing to dilineate between reform and revolution, in a few cases disastrously supporting social-democrat governments who sold out their supporters. With Besancenot’s rhetoric about his heroes – from Che Guevara to Leon Trotsky – the mix of state-interventionist ideas and talk of workers’ self-management, and a largely politically ‘new’ membership,  the precise character of the NPA is all to play for, and here we publish the translation of an interesting NPA article responding to critiques by the right-wing weekly Challenges, which highlights some of these contradictions. Continue reading “the nouveau parti anticapitaliste’s take on the crisis”

l’étincelle expelled from lutte ouvrière

The majority faction in Lutte Ouvrière, the second largest Trotskyist group in France, this Sunday expelled its minority L’Étincelle faction, which is sympathetic to the Ligue Communiste Révolutionnaire and its proposed New Anti-capitalist Party project. Continue reading “l’étincelle expelled from lutte ouvrière”