In France, more than a year after the election of François Hollande, the situation has gone from bad to worse. Those who voted for the left to get rid of Sarkozy expected progressive change. Instead, they are now suffering from the effects of government economic, social and ecological policies which are hardly different from those of the past. While the rest of society is experiencing the effects of capitalist crisis, the employers and financial markets are pursuing their offensive to obtain more sackings and fewer public services. The Conservative and far-right parties have dropped their inhibitions. After campaigning against equal marriage they are now, in an attempt to deflect popular anger, mobilising against taxation, charges on employers and laws protecting workers, all the time looking for scapegoats amongst 'social scroungers' and foreigners.
Racist language is becoming more common, as Roma people are stigmatised and colonial images of black people and Arabs - whether they are government ministers [as in the case of justice minister Christiane Taubira] or ordinary citizens - are no longer taboo. Productivist lobbies continue to get their way, as the government treats environmental policies as the least of its priorities, pursues expensive and socially unnecessary projects such as the Notre-Dame-des-Landes airport and refuses to commit itself to abandoning dependence on carbon-based fuels and nuclear power.
A dangerous political confusion is developing. The government is seen as illegitimate on the left, and a major political crisis could break out. A huge gulf separates popular aspirations for change from the operation of the present political system. To prevent right-wing and far-right parties from entering the breach and spreading their reactionary ideas we must find a way to galvanise the working-class movement and the general population.
The aspirations to a fairer, more egalitarian, greener and more democratic society are still a powerful driving force for numerous resistance movements amongst workers and young people and must be allowed to develop freely if we want to gain the upper hand. We have to provide a political perspective which starts from, and empowers, the radical demands of these movements and unleashes a force for emancipation, with the aim of winning a majority for our ideas within society. This is what guides us in our commitment with others to the Front de Gauche [Left Front]. Our ambition - which is more vital than ever before is to encourage, in harmony with the social movements, the Left Front's potential for growth and development.
Together, act with the Left Front
- Support the December 1st march for a 'fiscal revolution' (taxing capital, cancelling the increase in VAT) and demanding that Members of Parliament vote against the government's austerity budget.
- Continue the fight against the unjust pensions 'reform', which no left-wing government should have introduced, and for a return to a normal retirement age of 60.
- March against precarity (especially amongst women and young people) with the unemployed associations in Paris on December 7th.
- Resist the racist offensive with antiracist groups and unions on November 30th; on December 7th around the Appeal for Equal Rights on the anniversary of the historic March of 1983. We must also also oppose the policies of [Socialist Interior Minister] Manuel Valls, and in particular those concerning Roma migrants, undocumented immigrants and the deportation of foreign schoolchildren [i.e. children whose parents are in breach of immigration law].
Working with environmental activists, we must force the authorities in France and in Europe to take the measures required to make the 'energy transition' with all its industrial consequences, in the light of the latest GIEC world climate warning.
Enough is enough ! It is time to change direction and build a genuine left alternative.
We want to build a movement uniting all those left-wing and 'green' forces, including ordinary voters, militants and elected representatives, who share these demands. We must work towards a new majority block capable of imposing authentic left-wing policies and for another government - one which is prepared to take on the markets and the MEDEF (the French employers' federation] and break with the policies of scapegoating. We must unite a wide range of forces around our goals of social and ecological transformation and equal rights, and against the narrative which claims that there is no alternative to paying the debt and submitting to the effects of the crisis, and that we must put up with injustice and inequality, as well as a model of development which is leading to disaster.
The key to the situation lies in the hands of ordinary people. Public discussion, with the aim of creating a real popular dynamic, must first of all be organised with the majority of citizens, with activists in the social movements who are looking for a political way forward corresponding to their daily militant activity, with the Left Front, with those in the Socialist Party and Europe Ecologie-Les Verts [i.e. the current governing parties] who can no longer support this government's policies, as well as with those groups on the radical left who share our aims.
The time for an awakening to unite and change the Left - to rebuild hope - is now.
The elections in 2014 are another opportunity to modify the balance of forces on the left. In the town and city council elections, on the initiative of the Left Front, we can put together lists of candidates who are totally independent of those who support government policies, and are prepared to turn local councils into a base from which to resist austerity, relying on a popular and citizens' dynamic. In the European elections, the Left Front must succeed in affirming a left-wing alternative, bearing the message of a radically reformed, social, democratic and ecological Europe freed from the treaties which have plunged it into generalised austerity.
To achieve these goals, we need a Left Front which is united, open and democratic and allows for the involvement of ordinary citizens. It must live up to its ambition of contributing to building a vast movement of the majority, solidly rooted on the left. It must take up the challenge of encouraging debate and action to build a people's counter-offensive, not feeding competition between its component forces. It must contribute to unity and cooperation with other political and social forces, and become a vector for an alternative to the policies of the government.
ENSEMBLE ! Mouvement pour une Alternative de Gauche, Ecologiste et Solidaire.
Several political forces and groups of militants within the Left Front have now agreed to set up a united organisation, known as "Ensemble!", committed to all struggles for emancipation, which also welcomes individual members. We believe that political innovation will come from the confrontation and interaction of different experiences and cultures - a political métissage. We hope to initiate a contagious process transcending and bringing together forces coming from different political traditions; to create the basis for the emergence of a movement of social and political transformation.
Our sole purpose is to defend a global project for the Left Front and in this context will make every effort to advance towards the formation of a political, social and popular front capable of confronting the ruling classes and building an alternative to the policies of the present government. Our objective is to contribute, with others, to creating new perspectives for social transformation - for a social, ecological, feminist, internationalist alternative to the logic of capitalism and productivism; to create a tool for autonomous organisation and self-management, popular unity and emancipation.
[Agreed by delegates to a conference held on 23-24 November 2013 in Saint-Denis from Les Alternatifs, Convergence et Alternatives, Fédération pour une Alternative Sociale et Ecologique, Gauche Anticapitaliste and a group of members of Gauche Unitaire, with unaffiliated activists from the social movements and trade unions – all members or supporters of the Left Front.]