In the run-up to the first round of the presidential election, it’s a close race for four of the candidates. Even if no one can be sure who will replace Hollande, there is no doubt that the policy that the winner will pursue will be dictated by the bosses of big companies and banks.
Before his election, Hollande said that finance would be his first enemy and that he would fight it. Once he was elected, he didn’t even pretend to keep this promise. He gave in to the demands of the capitalists by giving them handouts of tens of billions of euros of public money. He passed the Macron and El Khomri laws which dismantled the labor code, facilitated layoffs and increased job insecurity without creating employment.
It is understandable that many workers who voted for Hollande in 2012 are now confused and no longer want to believe all the fine talk. But we’re back to the game of false promises again.
Of course Fillon, the candidate of the right, can satisfy his audience without even pretending. He says he will attack public services, public sector workers and what remains of the labor code. But Macron isn’t really any different. He talks of renewal but, where social matters are concerned, he has announced that he will simply carry on with the policy he implemented when he was Hollande's minister, and that he will govern by ordinances, without even consulting parliament. He makes no mystery of the new attacks on the workers that he has in store.
On the extreme right, Marine Le Pen wants to use the confusion resulting from the Hollande years to her advantage. She wants to play the role of candidate for the common people and the poor. But in fact, attacking the big bosses and their billions is clearly out of the question for her. Her enemy is not finance. Instead she targets the poorest of workers–undocumented migrants, immigrants in general–as if the exploiters were on the same side! Her propaganda divides the workers, inciting them to attack the poorest among themselves. It shows Le Pen for what she is: a mortal enemy of the working class.
On the left, Hamon and Mélenchon want to distance themselves from the policy of the Socialist Party–the party they both come from. According to the polls, Mélenchon's chances are on the rise. But even if he were elected, there would be no more reason to trust him than Hollande. He would behave the same way and for the same essential reason: the policies are not decided by the President, they are dictated by big business, banks and the financial markets.
This is not just true in France. In Greece, the population has suffered dramatic impoverishment to pay the billions in interest demanded by the banks. Elected to try to resist them, the Tsipras government quickly capitulated. It became the paying agent in charge of giving the bankers the money that was extorted from the Greek population.
Even if Mélenchon were elected and wanted to keep his promises, he would not hold out as long as Tsipras. He would capitulate, set up austerity measures and say that he had come up against “the wall of money”. This “wall” is nothing more than the will of the bourgeoisie to impose its choices. The leaders of the left have always justified surrendering by pretending to discover the “wall”. As if they did not already know it existed!
Mélenchon and Hamon can pretend not to see this wall, workers can't. Their problem is not to win a seat, but to defend their living conditions in the face of the attacks they will suffer anyway, regardless of who is elected. They cannot pretend that the wall isn’t there.
In order to say, “Yes, the wall does exist” and that we must give ourselves the means to pull it down, Lutte Ouvrière is presenting Nathalie Arthaud as its candidate.
The workers' demands are simple: ban layoffs, share out the work among all workers, increase wages and pensions, have workers audit the accounts of companies and the state. No election can impose these demands. The full strength of the workers must be mobilized, in workplaces and in the street, to break down the resistance of employers.
Voting for Nathalie Arthaud, will be a way for workers to express their vital needs. And it will also be preparation for the struggles to impose them.