The “New Democratic Centralist Front”

15 June 2024

Readers of a certain age may remember when the Communist Party of the Soviet Union described its inscrutable inner workings as “democratic centralism.” Within hours of its joyous birth, France’s New Popular Front gave signs that democratic centralism was still alive and well in one of its components, namely, La France Insoumise. No one familiar with the recent history of LFI will be surprised that Jean-Luc Mélenchon’s tightly controlled political formation chose, as its first move under the new aegis, to purge “internal enemies” Alexis Corbière, Raquel Garrido, and Danielle Simonnet, while reinstating Mélenchon protégé Adrien Quatennens, who had been sidelined following allegations of domestic violence by his ex-wife.

Each constituent party of the NPF has been assigned a certain number of districts in which it has the power to choose the unique candidate who will represent the left. LFI has the lion’s share of the seats, and within LFI the power still lies with Mélenchon. For once JLM made the wise choice to mute his own ego for the sake of achieving sufficient unity to permit a unified left opposition in the upcoming legislative elections. Had he not conceded on key points of contention, there would have been no New Popular Front. His divisive instincts and inveterate hostility to the other components of the coalition had already sunk the Nupes, and had he insisted on putting himself forward as the only possible prime minister in case of a left victory, the NPF would have been still-born. For once he chose the politically smart course. But once the initial goal was achieved, he couldn’t resist sticking it to his old nemeses. Voters already wary of the alliance contre-nature that is the NPF will now hesitate again if given a choice between an LFI candidate and a Macroniste. However angry they may be with Macron, they will have to acknowledge that Mélenchon has not really changed.



  • Ah, the crisis in a teacup is over. So perhaps associating the united left from with the Soviet Union (is Macron the mini-Degaulle in this scenario? Cause it is mini-Macron from now on out) is not the good analytic move.

  • bernard says:

    OK the French CP also worked under the principle of centralisme démocratique in those days. But this is not the right analogy for Mélenchon as anyone who knows his personal history can attest. While they denounced the “méthodes des Stals” in those days, militants of the OCI-AJS of which Mélenchon was a member were way more brutal – literally – in their suppression of any hint of internal dissent. This particular Trotskyist sect was by far the more brutal of all. Mélenchon Today has fallen back to his OCI-AJS days and is copying his old boss Berg in my opinion. Benjamin Stora has written about this sect and their methods regarding dissent.

  • With all due respect, vous parlez d’un temps que les moins de quarante ans ne peuvent pas connaitre, and it’s the under 40 crowd who are feeling the tightest pinch and are going to have to live with the consequences of a continued trend – of 30 years standing under all governments – of defunding / underfunding the “service public” while continuing to pay for the retirement payments and EHPADs for their parents and grandparents who are living on average ever longer. In short, there are no easy domestic paths forward for France; but we can all agree, I think, that calling these elections just before France is supposed to host the world at the Paris Olympics and with the Russia-Ukraine war becoming ever more dire (and dividing) was ill-advised to say the least.

    C. Jon Delogu
    PR, Univ Jean Moulin – Lyon 3
    author, “Fascism, Vulnerability, and the Escape from Freedom”

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