National Conference of Ensemble! (26-27 April 2014)

150 members and delegates of local branches of Ensemble ! (1) met on the weekend of 26-27 April 2014 in Montreuil, in the suburbs of Paris, for a national meeting to discuss the political situation and draw up a balance sheet of the first few months of the new organisation.
The first session on Saturday was devoted to the political situation after the recent local elections. The main feature, of course, was the debacle of the ruling Socialist Party and its allies, who lost control of 155 town and city councils to the right and the far-right National Front.
There was also general agreement that the Left Front, of which Ensemble ! is a member, along with the much larger French Communist Party and the Left Party, had also lost ground. (Translator’s note : This failure to provide a clear and credible alternative to the government’s austerity policies was in part due to the decision of the Communist Party, in many but not all areas, and crucially in a number of large towns including Paris, to form an alliance in the first round of the elections with the Socialist Party, thus confusing the issue for many voters – an analysis which is shared with the Left Party.)
A political crisis has now developed. The Greens have left the government (while claiming to remain part of the ruling majority in parliament) (a decision which was opposed by a section of the party), and several dozen Socialist members of parliament have come out in opposition to the policies being followed by the government under the new prime minister Manuel Valls, who was appointed by president François Hollande in the aftermath of the elections.  
On the plus side, the April 12 demonstrations called by the Left Front and supported by the New Anticapitalist Party, left Greens and even by one Socialist parliamentarian were a success. Unusually for an event organised by political parties, several trade union federations and local trade union councils also took part, as well as associations representing the social movements.
The conference delegates were unanimous in pointing out that the turn-out demonstrated the potential for resistance. What is needed now is to build on the success of the demonstration by creating local initiatives with a view to a further national mobilisation.
The meeting adopted the following political text (here in French on our website) :
Following the break on the Saturday, the delegates discussed a report dealing with  two subjects : the Transatlantic free trade treaty - and the opposition to it which is beginning to take shape - which is being negotiated in secret by the European Union and the United States, and the campaign for the European elections..
The following session took the form of working groups on the organisation of Ensemble!, ecological questions, international work, the movement’s logo (a question which has not yet been resolved !), the work of local councillors belonging to Ensemble ! and feminism. Regional commissions then discussed the campaign for the European elections.
The day finished with the customary (in France !) apéritif and speeches of welcome from the new mayor of Montreuil, Patrick Bessac (a member of the Left Front), Clémentine Autain (a national spokesperson for Ensemble !) and newly elected local councillor and member of Gauche Anticapitaliste-Ensemble ! Capucine Larzillière.
The Sunday session began with further working groups on the movement’s summer school, education, health, workers’ self-management, the social movements, etc., followed by a report back to the assembled delegates.
The next national meeting of Ensemble ! will take place on the weekend of 14-15 June.
Report by Angèle Mondini, translated with additional material for clarification by Colin Falconer

(1)  Ensemble ! (full name in French : Ensemble ! Mouvement pour une alternative de gauche, écologiste et solidaire) is a merger of several organisations belonging to the Left Front : Gauche Anticapitaliste, Convergence et Alternatives, Fédération pour une alternative sociale et écologique (with the Association des Communistes Unitaires), Les Alternatifs, as well as Unitaires !, an association of members or former members of Gauche Unitaire. The new organisation also has individual members who are unaffiliated to any of the above.

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