I am from the workers' camp

Louis Proyect lnp3 at panix.com
Wed Apr 17 07:41:07 MDT 2002

NY Times, April 17, 2002
Trotskyist on a First-Name Basis to France


PARIS, April 16 — Vendors selling "workers unite" pamphlets and books with
titles like "Being a Bolshevik after the Bolsheviks" lined the long walk
from the subway station to the auditorium where the presidential candidate
known simply as Arlette was about to speak.

Waiting for a crowd of more than 5,000 to settle into their seats, Arlette,
whose last name is Laguiller, was amiably taking questions from the news
media. In another setting, she would pass as someone's down-to-earth
granny. Her hair is short. She wears sensible, lace-up shoes and sometimes
looks remarkably vulnerable.

She is not, however, to be underestimated.

This year, she has turned out to be a surprisingly sharp thorn in the side
of the left-wing political establishment. Polls show that this retired,
Trotskyist typist may get as much as 10 percent of the votes in the first
round of the presidential elections set for Sunday.

That could mean third or fourth place in a field of 16 candidates — ahead
of both the candidates for the Communist Party and the Greens, the two
left-wing parties that have been junior partners in the ruling government
coalition for the last five years. The likely winners of the Sunday vote,
President Jacques Chirac and Prime Minister Lionel Jospin, are expected to
garner just 18 to 22 percent each.
Ms. Laguiller, 62, has run for the French presidency four times before, but
never gotten more than 5.3 percent of the vote. Her recent success
sometimes seems to overwhelm her. When she finally took the stage here
recently the crowd roared and roared, waving huge red banners.

"Stop, stop," she said after a few minutes. "You are going to make me cry."

Her pitch does not vary much. Her key positions include blocking profits
and raising salaries, reserving public funds for public services and
banning lay-offs.

"Most of the candidates are socially and politically in the camp of the
bourgeoisie," she says. "They are competing only to better the affairs of
the bosses, the managers, the businessmen and the bankers.

"Me, I am from the workers' camp. It is their interest — moral, material
and social — that I want to defend."

full: http://www.nytimes.com/2002/04/17/international/europe/17FRAN.html

Louis Proyect
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