Tuesday, May 8, 2007

French Elections: Whither the FCP

A Post Script to the French Elections

In 1981 or so, the French Communist Party endorsed and supported strongly the candidacy and ultimate victory of Franscois Mitterand for President of France. In return for that support, Mitterant and the Socialist Party offered, and the FCP accepted, 4 major top cabinet positions in the Socialist government. One was Transportation.

By all accounts that relationship was a disaster.

Some FCP activists cite that moment as the key milestone that has put the FCP in its current crisis.

In 1981, the FCP was able to get about 15% of the vote in the first round, the FCP had a strength of about 600,000 members....mostly active members. This was more than the SP had garnered.

While it sounded like a good idea, the fact of the matter was that while the 4 FCP leaders were Communists, they had to take their marching orders from Mitterand. Then Mitterand wasn't as bad politically as he became, but the seeds were there. But, the FCP leaders could not act like Communists.

Since that time, the FCP, more and more, cooperated with the SP.

When George Marchais left the FCP leadership, and died shortly after, Robert Hue, took the FCP into a full scale relationship with the SP. Marie-George Buffet has continued that path.

In the 2007 elections, the FCP got less than 2% of the vote and the Party's membership is below 100,000 with far less militants/activists.

There are no models of coalition building, but the FCP decision, over the last 20 years, to drop its own politics at the door and combine with the SP may have been the mistake of their lifetime. For, while doing that, the FCP also strongly modified its own Party line to be more in line with the Socialists.

Can the French people organize itself against the right wing politics of Sarkozy without a strong, independent Communist Party? Can the Socialist Party confront that Sarkozy powerhouse?

We will see.

Socialist Party Dividing

Meanwhile, the Socialist Party is destined to be divided into two parts. A right wing part lead by failed candidates Royal and Bayrou will be forming a right wing Socialist group that will sound and look like the USA's Democratic Party.

The left of the Socialist Party will hope to combine with the FCP and other left groupings.

This will all take place following the Parliamentary elections in June of this year.

The French and world press is continually calling this period a historic moment for French politics.

But, far more important, is that the future of the most heroic Communist Party in Europe, the FCP, the Party that was the center of the resistance against Hitler, is at stake.

Stay Tuned

Mike Tolochko

Reference materials: For those interested in more facts and figures, and less about the role of the FCP, please seethe piece by Doug Ireland posted here; and the very good piece written in the New Yorker Magazine's, April 23, 2007 issue.


Anonymous said...

A little edit needed-- right before the section 'Socialist Party Dividing' you have the FCP combining with the FCP when it should be the FCP combining with the SP

Anonymous said...

Good catch