France

French Elections: Second Round Win--On Points

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Many commentators interpreted the mainstream right's victory in the French parliamentary elections in June as a return to normality after the shock of Le Pen's showing in the presidential election last April.

The big majority for president Chirac's UMP (Union pour la majorité présidentielle) coalition and the fact that the defeated Socialists achieved more or less the same vote as in the last general election of 1997 appeared to herald the recovery of the mainstream, apparently confirmed by the falling away of support for both the National Front (FN) and the revolutionary left since April.

To Vote or Not to Vote?

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It was wrong to call for a vote for Chirac against Le Pen in the recent French elections.

One of the fascinating things about the present period is how it brings up old issues in a new form. Take the debate which erupted last month among the French revolutionary left about how to react after Le Pen came second in the first round of the presidential election, and knocked out the Socialist Party prime minister Jospin. It was very much a rerun of the arguments over the Popular Front between revolutionaries, Communist Party supporters and social democrats back in the 1930s.

'Halte au fascisme, halte au capitalisme!'

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They came in their tens of thousands, young and old, black and white. Within hours of the news that Le Pen had come second in the first round of the presidential election, the boulevards of central Paris were filled with protesters.

Many were in tears of shock and emotion. One young woman had painted 'J'ai honte' ('I am ashamed') on her forehead.

I was on a feeder demonstration that marched first to the Place de la Republique on its way to the traditional gathering place for protesters, the Bastille. As we passed metro stations and cafes people responded to the call 'Dans la rue!' ('Onto the street!') and joined the march. Demonstrators hugged each other as they found friends in the crowd--they were on their mobile phones--'We're going to the Bastille. You must come'.

Fascism - How to Fight Nazi Trouble Up at Mill Towns

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Can Le Pen's success be repeated in Britain? This is the big question as we go to press, with local elections only days away.

The Nazi British National Party hopes that it can capitalise on despair among working people after five years of a Labour government to win people to its message of hatred.

Warning bells rang last June, when Nazis scored high votes in the old textile towns of north west England, especially Oldham and Burnley. Now they are hoping to capitalise on these votes to win seats on the local councils there and so provide a focus for their racist views.

French Election: Whither France?

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As polls closed after the first round of the French presidential election on 21 April exit polls were expected to confirm that the second round on 5 May would pit the incumbent prime minister, Lionel Jospin, against the outgoing president, Jacques Chirac.

Before the evening was out, however, Jospin had withdrawn from political life, Chirac had achieved the lowest ever score of a standing president and the shocking revelation that he was to face not a Socialist but the fascist candidate Jean-Marie Le Pen in the second round brought thousands of protesters onto the streets, sparking a nationwide wave of anti-fascist demonstrations which show no sign of letting up.

French Elections: A Watershed for the Revolutionary Left

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Whatever the result of the first round of this month's presidential election in France, the poll is certain to confirm the crisis of mainstream politics.

Although the current president, Jacques Chirac, and prime minister Lionel Jospin will probably contest the second round stand-off on 5 May, the election has so far been notable for two things. The first is the general indifference which has greeted the contest between the two frontrunners. Polls have shown that a clear majority of voters see no difference in policy between the Gaullist right winger Chirac and the Socialist Jospin, whose party governs as part of the 'plural left' coalition.

The Wrong Attack

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Why has the anti-war movement in France has not matched others?

I wrote two months ago how in most countries the movement over globalisation had moved on to become a movement against the Afghan war. One reason for this was the way the movement's best known figures had seen the war as the military face of globalisation.

Unfortunately there were exceptions. A year ago France had the biggest movement around globalisation, focused to a very large extent by the organisation Attac. Yet it was the one major European country without serious protests against the war.

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