The Left: Unfruitful but Multiplying

22 November 2023

In next year’s European elections the French Left will be represented by no fewer than five political parties: La France Insoumise, the Socialists, the Communists, the Greens, and the Parti Radical de Gauche, which apparently still exists. Bernard Cazeneuve, the former PS prime minister, seems to have been approached to serve as the head of the PRG list, but he has declined.

Such diversity is not, however, likely to create much excitement among potential left-wing voters. Turnout could well be quite low, since nothing obvious is at stake. Time was, the Left might point to the EU as the repository of its social ambitions, a fortress to be wrested from the hands of the right and turned into a bulwark against the depredations of globalization. But lately the EU has figured in the leftist imagination chiefly as a cushion against Covid-induced hard times, a somewhat lackluster enforcer of border security, and a conduit of support for Ukraine in its battle with Russia.

Even Macron, who in the past has sung some of his finest arias in praise of the EU of his imagination, quite different from the actually-existing EU of uninspired bureaucratic prose, drab conservative politics, and fun-loving, bribe-seeking MEPs, has had to seek other audiences, since no one any longer believes that a promised transmogrification of the EU will miraculously supply the missing social component of 2017’s promised en même temps modernization of France. No one seems interested in leading the foredoomed Macronist European ticket, least of all Bruno Lemaire, whose ministerial colleague Gérald Darmanin proposed him for the thankless job on the grounds that the finance minister had yet to put himself before the voters. Darmanin no doubt hoped that if Lemaire ate this poison pill, his failure would disqualify him for the presidential election, in which Darmanin hopes to pick up any chips left on the table by former Macronists not named Philippe.

Incredibly enough, Macron still has nearly four years of his term–I nearly said “sentence”–left to serve as a lame duck left to watch over this barnyard full of squawking, squabbling small fry. With the world in crisis, it’s embarrassing to have to report on such trivial matters, but this is my beat, as I need to remind myself from time to time.


1 Comment

  • bernard says:

    I would argue that turnout is always low in European elections and that these are often seen as an opportunity for a protest vote thought to be relatively inconsequential.
    As for the left being seriously disunited in these elections, I see two equally important reasons. The first is technical: these are the only elections in France where the voting is proportional. Every other election is a first past the post two rounds voting. Proportional voting does not concentrate the minds like first past the post does (see Israel…in more than one way). The second reason is of course political with several parties finding it difficult to live within the NUPES and Melenchon’s Lider Maximo (of Neverland…) tendencies. This is being enhanced with the resonance of the Israel-Hamas conflict where LFI’s bid for the immigrant origin vote has mutated into almost open antisemitism and the almost total disregard for the victims of the Hamas pogrom. Thankfully other left parties are not ready to accept this and even some courageous minds inside LFI are expressing their disgust. But under such conditions, we must be thankful that the left disunites and that some parties and personalities do not dishonor themselves.

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