An Echo from the Past

Issue section: 
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Chris Harman argues (June SR) that it was wrong to call for a vote for Chirac against Le Pen in the second round of the French election.

I agree that the way to stop the Nazis is by mass action, not just by voting. I agree that the slogan of the left should be 'Onto the streets' not 'Vote Chirac'. I agree that our politics should be those of the united front, not the popular front. I agree that in certain circumstances the Tory-type right would let the Nazis into power. And I agree that the left should never agree to withdraw from standing in elections under pressure to 'unite behind an anti-Nazi candidate'.

But I still think that, on the day of that second round ballot, we would have to drag ourselves down to the polling station and vote against Le Pen. And I certainly think that it would be a mistake to actively campaign for abstention.

To call for abstention is to say that it doesn't matter which candidate wins. This undermines our argument that fascism is qualitatively different from right wing conservatism.

In fact Chris weakens his own arguments when he says that there was no chance of Le Pen winning, and that 'there was no need for the left to vote for Chirac' to prevent a Le Pen victory. Doesn't this imply that if there was a chance of Le Pen winning Chris might be saying something different?

Phil Webster
Blackburn