18 décembre 2012

Gauche Anticapitaliste explained to English-speaking readers

A new party of the French anticapitalist left - member of the Left Front

Gauche Anticapitaliste (GA) (1) is a French political organisation founded in November 2011 as a tendency within the New Anticapitalist Party (2), originally representing up to 40% of the membership. GA defines itself as 'eco-socialist'.

Within the NPA, the tendency argued in favour of the unity of left opposition movements in France, considering that the formation of the Left Front, composed initially of the French Communist Party, the Left Party (a breakaway from the Socialist Party led by Jean-Luc Mélenchon) and a small split from the NPA, Gauche Unitaire, had created the basis for a realignment of forces to the left of the Socialist Party.

Between the end of 2011 and the middle of 2012, many supporters of the pro-unity current within the NPA left the party or ceased to be active within it. In the French presidential election of May 2012, some members and local groups of GA anticipated the decision to leave the NPA by campaigning for the Left Front's Jean-Luc Mélenchon. Others campaigned for the NPA's candidate, Philippe Poutou. (Mélenchon obtained a little over 11% of the vote in the first round, Poutou 1.15%.)

In July 2012, GA presented a motion to a national conference of the NPA, which obtained 22% of the votes. It then decided to leave the NPA to join the Left Front (Front de Gauche, FdG). (3) The membership of GA is estimated at the end of 2012 at approximately 700, overwhelmingly ex-members of the NPA and in many cases also ex-members of the NPA's predecessor, the Revolutionary Communist League (LCR). A small minority of GA supporters are currently still members of the NPA.

In areas where the  Left Front organises public activities, such as the holding of Citizens' Assemblies, local GA groups play an active part in promoting them; in others, where the Left Front exists mainly as an electoral cartel, the GA sees its role as helping to transform it into a permanent, interventionist organisation with a mass base. In both cases, GA members work to broaden the Left Front through involving activists who are not members of any of the constituent organisations.

Within the Left Front, GA is involved in discussions with other member-organisations with a view to closer collaboration and a possible merger. It declined a merger proposal from the Left Party, preferring to continue discussions with all the member-organisations. However, it accepted an offer to send observers to meetings of the Left Party's National Council.
GA has helped organise conferences of the 'red-green pole' within the Left Front (GA, C&A, FASE, Les Alternatifs).

GA has a number of local elected representatives, including two members of the Limousin Regional Council, originally elected on a joint PCF-PG-NPA ticket.

GA is not affiliated to an international organisation. (4) GA is involved in international solidarity campaigns and social forums, and supports the international BDS (Boycott, Disinvestment, Sanctions) movement in solidarity with Palestine. It has helped to popularise the resistance to austerity in Greece, Spain, Portugal and elsewhere and has contacts with Syriza in Greece and the Left Block in Portugal, amongst other European parties and coalitions.

GA publishes press releases and articles on its national website http://www.gauche-anticapitaliste.org. It does not currently publish a newspaper or review.

Colin Falconer (for Gauche Anticapitaliste), December 2012

(1) Gauche Anticapitaliste (in English, the Anticapitalist Left) (France) is not to be confused with the organisation of the same name in Switzerland - a party founded in 2009 which is closely associated with the Fourth International and the French NPA.

(2) The New Anticapitalist Party (in French, Nouveau parti anticapitaliste, NPA) was founded in February 2009 after the dissolution of the Ligue Communiste Révolutionnaire (LCR). Initially claiming 9,000 members, its  membership is today estimated at approximately 3,000.

(3) As of October 2012, the Left Front is made up of the French Communist Party (PCF), the Left Party (Parti de Gauche - PG), Gauche Unitaire (GU), the Fédération pour une alternative sociale et écologique (FASE), Convergences et Alternative (C&A), the Parti communiste ouvrier de France (PCOF), République et Socialisme, Gauche Anticapitaliste (GA) and (since November 2012) Les Alternatifs.
Of the nine components of the Left Front, three (GU, C&A, GA) are splits from the NPA. The PCOF comes from the Maoist (Marxist-Leninist) tradition. The FASE was set up by ex-members of the PCF, among others. Les Alternatifs is a 'red-green' party. République et Socialisme is a split from the Republican and Citizen's Movement (MRC), a left-nationalist satellite of the Socialist Party.

(4) A number of GA's partners in the Left Front (PCF, PG, GU) are members of the Party of the European Left. A group of GA members who had previously been members of the Trotskyist LCR are active in the Fourth International, on a personal basis. A few members of GA have also at different times been members of organisations (Socialisme International, Socialisme par en-bas ...) associated with the International Socialist Tendency. However, the IST, while recognising that the NPA has undergone a serious crisis and loss of members, continues to support the small group within it which publishes the review Que faire ?  

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