Les Chifres

Johannes Schneider Johannes.Schneider at gmx.net
Fri Apr 26 04:48:22 MDT 2002

> Apologies for not putting in the PCF's 1995 vote correctly: as Johannes
> rightly points out, it should have been 2 632 460.
> As for his remark that I should 'do my maths before I start politics',

this remark was not aimed at you, but those who are raising an alarmist tone
about the rise of the vote for Le Pen, in this respect I agree with you: it
is no qualitative breakthrough.

> Johannes' category of the 'Respectable Right' seems arbitrary, and, as a
> consequence, schematic: it appears to be defined as 'everybody who is
> not left but who is not a fascist either', i.e. it is defined on the
> basis of what people are not rather than what they are.

No, it is not schematic, but evolves from French political reality: The
persons I haved grouped together there all have supported a right government
before and all were supposed to have supported Chrirac against Jospin in the
second round.

> And if you look
> closer you can see that there are distinct processes at work here. For
> example, you have the RPR (Chirac) vote which has, even though it
> declined a little, more or less held up (from 6 348 375 to 5 665 855):
> not a surprise if you remember that Chirac is the sitting candidate.

Usually there is a bonus for the sitting candidate when he runs for the
second term.

> You
> only get this big collapse if you factor in the UDF, whose vote did
> indeed collapse (from 5 658 796 to 1 949 170). But the fact that the UDF
> vote collapsed and the RPR's didn't says to me that there is more than
> one thing happening here. I'm forced to speculate a little here but I
> would suggest that what has happened to the UDF is that their vote was
> scattered to the four winds through having a complete non-entity as a
> candidate (whose most significant campaigning moment as I understand it
> was to thump some kid on the telly for trying to pick his pocket). But
> does this suggest a collapse of the 'respectable right'? I don't think
> so.

Certainly Balladur was more of an heavy-weight than Bayrou, but both of them
are politically the most closes to Chirac of all other candidates. There is
no indication at all that a lot of the Balladur vote went over to Jospin. It
either stayed with Bayrou (or the other candidates I grouped there) or went
to Chirac, who I guessed directly lossed to Le Pen. You could question
whether it is correct to include de Villiers in that camp (and not with Le

> The same thing happens when you look at the 'Gauche Plurielle' (for
> which read 'respectable left'), which looks to be defined as 'everyone
> who is not right but who is not a Trotskyist either'. Again, it looks
> schematic.

No, it is not. All these candidates supported the Jospin government (as
opposed to the Trostkyists). I agree that Chevenement is the most doubtly
case in this camp, but he served both as minister of defence and minister of
interior in PS governments and he certainly can not be added to right
(though he disagreed on Maastrich).
Just a word on 'respectable': In France (as opposed to Germany and the US)
even the extreme left is respecatble (as opposed to Le Pen and Megret).

> Which leads us to Le Pen. If you account for his former lieutenant
> Mégret you get a rise from 4 570 838 to 5 471 739. Worrying rise? Of
> course. Qualitative breakthrough? Come off it.

No objection here.

> And what of the 'revolutionary left'? A near doubling of their vote is
> encouraging, but we shouldn't get too misty-eyed over this. LO has
> 'sect' written all over it (and a very insular, 'national-revolutionary'
> sect it is too). It is not going to form the basis of a new political
> force on the left until it learns to work with other people. And for all
> the positive things I could say about the LCR I suspect that it has too
> many loose canons in its ranks to provide a stable focus for a new party
> at this stage either. And the Lambertists are the Lambertists.

Agreement as well.

> In short what seems to have happened here is some realignment on the
> left: the collapse in the PCF vote is significant and the doubling of
> the 'Trotskyist' vote as aggregated is also significant. Indeed, it is
> difficult not to see this as different expressions of the same thing.

But in this case it has a significance for the legislative elections: Given
the decline of the votes for the Gauche Plurielle, I do not see any
parliamentary majority for them, unless they come to some sort of electoral
agreement with LO and LCR. But such an electoral agreement would undermine
the very basis of the LO and LCR success, which is the disappointment of a
considerable section of the working class with the policies of the
government left.

> But dramatic polarisation? Collapse of the Fifth Republic? Rebirth of
> fascism? Burgeoning revolutionary crisis?

Did I say anything of that or were the simple numbers so impressive that one
might to come (wrongly) to these assumptions?
But what can be said is that any governemnt ( left or right ) will be in a
much weaker position than it had been five or ten years ago.


PLEASE clip all extraneous text before replying to a message.

More information about the Marxism mailing list