Resolution on the joint LO-LCR slate in the euro-election

Lutte Ouvrière's 1998 conference (published in Class Struggle #25 - Britain)
December 1998

The results won by LO's slates in the 1998 regional elections confirmed the score made by Arlette Laguiller in the 1995 presidential election. These results showed the continuing existence of a far-left electorate which is, on the one hand, larger than LO's traditional electorate since 1973-74, and, on the other hand, receptive to a policy of radical opposition to the measures implemented by all the parties which choose to limit their response to unemployment and its consequences to the requirements of the capitalist management of society (including those parties which claim to be on the left).

The LCR's results in the regional elections were generally lower. These results were not negligible, however, particularly where the LCR stood most clearly on the basis of its own identity - that is as a revolutionary communist organisation (compared to all the areas in which the LCR candidates were part of "alternative" lists which were ill-defined politically).

Immediately after the regional elections, we made a public stand in our press in favour of a joint LO-LCR slate in the 1999 euro- election.

We do have a number of differences with the LCR, including over the way we talk about Europe. Yet these differences did not prevent us from having a joint slate with the LCR in the 1979 euro-election, nor from again approaching the LCR in 1984 for the same purpose. But, above all, the issue on which revolutionaries have to make their voices heard in this euro-election is not so much that of Europe itself than that of the policy that would be needed in order to wage an effective fight against unemployment and the rise of poverty. All the more so as everything that could be progressive in this European Union (the single currency, abolition of borders, free circulation of individuals, fight against inflation, etc..) is being used as a pretext by the various governments to demand even more sacrifices from the working population.

We are therefore in favour of a joint LO-LCR slate around a policy of radical opposition to the right-wing parties as well as to the "Plural Left". This policy would state that fighting unemployment and its consequences requires the targeting of capitalist profit and that this can only be achieved through the conscious intervention of the masses to control the operation of the economy (something that we already argued in the 1995 presidential election and the 1998 regional election with a detailed plan of emergency measures).

The fact that we considered having a joint slate has got nothing to do with the electoral preoccupation of increasing our chances to win seats - all the more so as the possibilities of intervention which will be available to those sitting in the Strasbourg parliament will be extremely limited. Rather, our main preoccupation in doing this was the political significance of being able to break, for the second time after the 1995 presidential election, the symbolic 5% barrier and of demonstrating once again that, while still very much a minority, the far left has a growing audience among the youth and the labouring classes. One should not forget that such successes, although they have only a relative value, strengthen the credit that far left ideas have among working class activists, rank-and-file workers and the youth. These successes, limited as they are, demonstrate that a policy which is opposed to that of the CP - which, under the pretext of being realistic, condones the government's policy, that is a policy which is not fundamentally different from that of previous right-wing governments - can attract an electoral support comparable to that attracted by the CP.

It is for these reasons that the election of revolutionary communists to the European parliament would be a positive development, far more than because of what they would actually be able to achieve.

Of course, we could have chosen to stand in the Euro-election on our own, on the same basis. In that case we might still have been able to break the 5% barrier. But what would have happened if our votes had been below the 5% level, but above that level after the addition of the votes won by the LCR? Our attitude would have been absolutely incomprehensible for the vast majority of workers. Instead of the election results boosting their morale, the inability of the far-left to unite its forces in this occasion could only have had a demoralising and demobilising effect.

During the Autumn, delegations of our organisation and the LCR met several times in order to reach an agreement on a text which could be used as the election address of a joint slate, should the election take place today (new developments may require some minor amendments before June 1999). Reaching an agreement was relatively easy. These discussions led to a satisfactory draft which corresponds to a common policy.

Of course, this agreement does not mean that our organisations can now predict a merger in the short or middle term. In actual fact, such a perspective would not depend only on a mere discussion over a joint programme.

The only development that would change the terms in which such a perspective is posed would be a significant radicalisation of the struggles of the working class, which would raise the consciousness of many elements among the working class and the youth, who would then join far-left organisations. In such a situation many of the present differences - which are mostly over tactics - between the various currents aiming at building a revolutionary party, would become obsolete.

But as long as we remain in a situation (which has lasted for several decades already) in which small groups representing tiny minorities are trying to build something of their own - which is either a proletarian revolutionary party or a party "on the left of the left" recruiting on a looser programmatic basis - the differences between these groups can only remain at a tactical and organisational level. In this context, it is preferable that each group goes through its own experience and that all the different policies can be argued for and tested in practice.

This is preferable so long as the fact of having a separate existence does not prevent the various groups from intervening jointly whenever this is necessary and possible.

Such a joint intervention is precisely our objective for the 1999 euro-election.