In normal times, Fillon hates to see protesters take to the street, especially when they are workers determined to fight off government attacks. But on Sunday, March 5, Fillon himself organized a rally of his anti-working-class base - people living in leafy residential areas and likely to have marched against same-sex marriage behind “Protest for All” banners. Fillon needed their support because some right-wing leaders wanted him to withdraw from the presidential race. Not that they were too bothered by the fact that Fillon had showered his family with public money or done consultancy work for a billionaire. After all, isn't this common practice among politicians? Nor were they bothered by Fillon’s reactionary platform either. What did bother them, and still does, is what they risk losing. If Fillon remains in the race and loses the election, they won't get the cushy jobs they're hoping for, whether it be in Parliament or in government. This is what the recent, on-going political maneuvering really boils down to. The problem with the French right wing isn’t just Fillon. It’s the whole bucket of crabs who keep going on about “France this” and “France that”, while, in actual fact, only their seats in Parliament and their own personal ambitions really matter to them!
Macron is planning to level down all retirement pension plans to the most basic and least favorable conditions for workers. Following in the footsteps of Juppé and Fillon who tried—and failed—to do so in 1995 and 2003, he dares say that his only concern is for more “equality”! He also aims to force the unemployed to accept the second job they are offered—even for a reduced wage—as if being unemployed were their fault! Macron, who was the great inspirer of the El Khomri Employment Law, now wants to make the law stricter. He has also announced his intention to lower both the wealth tax and the corporate tax, as a way of showing the rich that they will receive just as many gifts from him as the workers will receive blows.
Just like Macron, Le Pen promises to reduce the corporate tax. There is nothing in her program to offend or trouble the capitalists. The only people she attacks are foreigners, those who work on building sites, in restaurants or as cleaners. And she promotes “national preference” because it pits worker against worker so that they won’t lash out at their real enemy: the bourgeoisie.
Hamon and Mélenchon are busy targeting voters who are disappointed with Hollande’s presidency. Like Macron, both Hamon and Mélenchon are heirs to the left-wing parties that have served in government and that have catered to the capitalist class for decades. Both of them supported Hollande in 2012. Both of them were Socialist Party Ministers and as such led or contributed to the attacks against the working class. Sure enough, they are now critical of Hollande’s record, but their only dream is to come back to power to serve the interests of capital owners without questioning the system. All of which would inevitably lead to more disillusionment.
Clearly, elections cannot really change things. They merely cast a spotlight, not on those who pull the strings, but on the puppets who pretend to run the country. Still, the ballot can be put to good use by workers, but for one purpose only: expressing their opposition to the anti-working-class policies of both right-wing and left-wing governments. That is precisely the reason why Nathalie Arthaud will be present in the coming election as Lutte Ouvrière’s candidate.
A vote for Nathalie Arthaud is a vote to affirm that workers’ jobs, wages and retirement pensions must be considered more important than the income of shareholders and CEOs. In 2016, the 40 French businesses that make up the CAC40 index reaped 75 billion euros in profit. With that amount of money, over two million workers could be hired and paid decent wages.
A vote for Nathalie Arthaud is a vote to affirm that in order to fight the plague of unemployment, there must be a ban on lay-offs and job cuts and the work that already exists must be shared among all with no loss of salary.
A vote for Nathalie Arthaud is a vote to affirm that it is necessary to increase all monthly wages by 300 euros. Not a single monthly wage, not a single retirement pension should be less than 1,800 euros net per month.
A vote for Nathalie Arthaud is a vote to affirm that workers must put an end to business secrecy. How can anyone trust a company like Peugeot? They claimed to be on the verge of bankruptcy to justify 17,000 lay-offs and the closedown of an entire factory and now boast record-breaking profits which allow them to buy out Opel. Workers must impose their own control over big companies.
A vote for Nathalie Arthaud is a vote to affirm that public money must go to public services, not to bosses.
A vote for Nathalie Arthaud is a vote to affirm that all working people have the same interests whatever their nationality or skin color.
A vote for Nathalie Arthaud is a vote to affirm the pride we feel as members of the working class.
A vote for Nathalie Arthaud is a means to prepare the inevitable struggles against the future government and the future President, whoever he or she may be.