Local elections: the voice of the working class must be heard

Lutte Ouvrière workplace newsletter
February 10, 2020

The first round of France’s local elections will be held on March 15. The candidates in small towns are often people who are dedicated to the community, ready to give up their time and dedicate themselves to helping solve the many problems the community faces. Moreover, mayors in small towns are usually quite close to the population. In large towns, it’s more a question of power than of dedication: the town council, with its sizeable apparatus and budget, is a prize all local bigwigs have their eyes on.

There are quite a few politicians who have used their term as mayor as a springboard for their careers and the Macronist MPs are well aware of this. A fair number of them are worried about losing their seats in two years’ time and have chosen to run in local elections in the hopes of protecting their political careers. Édouard Philippe, Gérald Darmanin and several other ministers have worked it out: stay in government but secure the future by running for mayor. The Socialist Party (PS) and the political right were abruptly sidelined from power in 2017 and they’d like to get back in the game.

As for the Rassemblement National (France’s extreme right-wing party), they’ve been running several town districts since 2014 and have shown their true colors. They’ve set by-laws that forbid begging and have abolished free school meals for the poorest families. They’ve even tried to evict the local branch of a national non-denominational charity that fights poverty. And they continue to divide workers according to their origin or their religion. Le Pen’s party boasts about how they are running the districts, hoping that tomorrow they’ll be running the country. Much the same as the other parties, they want to work for the government’s soup kitchen serving the rich. For these people, local elections are an important political issue.

Workers who are conscious of their interests really mustn’t vote for a Le Pen list, nor of course for a Macronist list. But it isn’t in the ballot boxes that they can put a stop to the anti-working-class policy of Macron and his government. That can only be done through their massive strikes and demonstrations. Mobilization against the retirement system reform continues, as witnessed by the demonstrations last week. The battle isn’t over yet.

This election can at least give the working class an opportunity to stand up and be counted and make its voice heard. That’s why Lutte Ouvrière is presenting a list of candidates in as many towns as possible.

Our candidates are not politicians or local bigwigs. They’re proud of their communist and revolutionary ideas. They’re manual workers, employees, technicians, supermarket cashiers, cleaners, hospital workers and teachers. They know exactly how difficult life is for workers. They’re involved in the fight against the retirement system reform and against all attacks on workers.

They’re not saying “vote for us and things will change”. It’s impossible to really change the life of working people locally. Power is in the hands of the capitalists and the State. Working-class districts are caught between critical needs and the lack of means to meet those needs. By contrast, a district run by revolutionaries could be a solid foundation to organize the workers’ battles alongside them – the fights against layoffs, against evictions from rented accommodation, or to support strikes and the taking over of vacant housing. That kind of municipality would do its best to help those who are fighting, by making all possible resources available to them. It would seek to establish a local workers’ democracy by involving workers, their unions and their associations.

And even if they’re only a minority on the town council, those elected on the Lutte Ouvrière ballot could be the eyes and ears of the working class. They would be the spokespersons for their interests against those of the ruling class. They would challenge the property developers and capitalists who live off the community and they would also challenge the bigwigs who grease their palms.

By voting for Lutte Ouvrière’s lists on March 15, workers who are aware of their interests can make themselves heard. Before and after this date, the fight must continue: Macron and Philippe, the puppets who govern for the ruling class, aren’t going to stop their attacks because of local elections.