[Marxism] France: workers say NO to a capitalists' Europe

Jorge Martín jorge at marxist.com
Mon May 30 12:51:14 MDT 2005

The referendum in France on the European Constitution has resulted in a
decisive defeat for the ruling class. In spite of a particularly intense
campaign by the media, the UMP governement and the right-wing of the
Socialist Party, 55% of voters have rejected the treaty. The participation
in the poll was very high. Of the 42 million people in France who have the
right to vote, 70% participated in the referendum.


At the beginning of the year, opinion polls gave a clear majority in
favour of the treaty. That was before anybody had read it. President
Chirac decided to have the Constitution ratified by a referendum. Clearly,
at that time, the ruling class parties and the employers federation MEDEF
thought the result was a forgone conclusion. After all, on the surface of
things, they had good reason to think so. Day after day, the mass media
was pumping out propaganda in favour of the Constitution. They also had
the unflinching support of their “moderate” puppets in the leadership of
the French Socialist Party. The leadership of the powerful CGT trade union
confederation was also in favour of the treaty, to the extent that some
CGT leaders, such as Le Digou, together with millionnaire MEDEF members,
had formed an association whose purpose was to campaign in favour of its

However, it soon became obvious that things were not going according to
plan. Within the Socialist Party, in spite of intense pressure from
François Hollande and the right-wing leadership, 42% of party members
voted against the Constitution. Then, within the CGT, the leadership,
sensing the mounting opposition to the treaty within its ranks, opted
first of all for a “neutral” position, before having this overturned by a
large majority on the national council. The “no” vote then became the
official position of the confederation.


As the campaign gathered pace, the opposition to the treaty developed on a
massive scale, with huge numbers of ordinary people, most of whom had
never been involved in politics until now, turning out to hear speakers
from the Communist Party and the left opposition with the Socialist Party.
On an almost daily basis, rallies involving thousands of people took place
in different parts of the country. Even in small villages, meetings of one
or two hundred people were commonplace. Militants giving out leaflets and
posters would be asked for copies to post up in workplaces. In what seemed
like a modern equivalent of the Cahiers des doléances – whereby, on the
eve of the French Revolution, the people of France expressed their
grievances – people attending public meetings spoke out angrily against
unemployment, against poor and inadequate housing, against falling wages
and living standards, against factories moving to Poland or China in
serach of higher profits. They spoke of the arrogance and brutality of the
employers, the harassment of trade unionists, of racism and of the sorry
plight of immigrants and political exiles, and of comfortable “socialist”
politicians, who knew nothing of and cared even less for all of this. One
such socialist politician, the European MP Olivier Duhamel, declared
publicly that he could not understand this sudden turn of events, and that
France was “sliding down into Bolshevism”!

Only 13 départements (similar to counties in Britain) showed a majority
vote for the Constitution. 83 had majorities against. In the more working
class areas, the vote against was often over 70%. 60% of under-25’s and
80% of manual workers voted against.

full article (by Greg oxley) is here:

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