NOTES ON THE CONFERENCE HELD ON 15 JUNE 2013 TO DEBATE THE MERGER OF FIVE ORGANISATIONS BELONGING TO THE LEFT FRONT (FRANCE)
The following article was published in French by Gauche Anticapitaliste.
The national conference of five organisations (1) belonging to the Left Front (informally known as the 'Group of 5') was held at the University of Saint-Denis on 15 June 2013. The discussions took place in a fraternal atmosphere, demonstrating a shared intention to move towards a united organisation. Most of the 200 people present are involved in local experiences of joint activity. The five organisations were all present, along with a number of well-known independent socialist, trade union and environmental activists. (In a transitional period it is expected that all five organisations will maintain a separate identity, but there will also be individual membership.)
The two organisations with the most representatives on the day were the FASE and Gauche Anticapitaliste (about 80 in the case of GA). Convergence et Alternatives and Les Alternatifs were also present. Gauche Unitaire was represented by two groups : that around Christian Piquet, which has adopted a more cautious approach to the new grouping, sent observers; the other group took an active part in the debates. A sixth group with links to the 'Five', République et Socialisme, decided not to attend.
The morning discussion revealed the progress already made in the unification process in many regions. In the afternoon, attendees divided into 4 working groups to discuss the new organisation's general programme, internal organisation, strategy in the Left Front and the 2014 local elections. All four discussions proved constructive and interesting.
On the programme, there seemed to be general agreement on fundamental questions, with some debates unresolved around the question of Europe, employment, job security and the reduction of working hours, the ecological transition and the term 'eco-socialism'. As far as organisation is concerned, many questions are still up for debate, but the general picture is one of a desire to move forward together. On the local elections, a statement is still to be written, but everybody agrees that the Left Front should stand independent lists of candidates wherever possible [i.e. independent of the Socialist Party], and that, while the Communist Party and the Left Party were expected to decide on their own attitude towards taking part in local executives, the members of the 'Five' had a common position consisting of maintaining complete independence from the Socialist Party.
All round, there seems to be a strong tendency towards convergence of the 5 organisations - something which could not be taken for granted given their different backgrounds and traditions.
At the end of the day's debates, a summary of conclusions was unanimously adopted, setting out an agreed timetable:
23-24 November 2013: an Assembly to formally launch the process of forming a united movement.
Before then: :
Setting up of local groups in every town and region of France,
Carrying on the exchanges around the four themes discussed above, with the aim of reaching a fnal agreement at the next national meeting,
Organisation of a day school on 23 August, the day before the Left Front's annual summer school/conference,
Common publications depending on events, in addition to the existing bulletin ('Trait d'Union', published by the 'Group of 5' with the participation of République et Socialisme).
Setting up of working groups, to be coordinated by the Liaison Committee, on:
1. the 2014 local elections,
2. debates and initiatives within the Left Front,
3. internal organisation and the tools needed for our new movement,
4. the name and logo
An important step has been taken, although it it is too early to say if the new grouping will succeed in taking form and facing the storms ahead (the pensions battle, local and European electeions etc). It is important to recognise how much has already been achieved, as well as what remains to be done to put together the pieces which were scattered with the break-up of the LCR/NPA, and to associate in the same political movement three different political cultures, one post-Communist, one coming from the old PSU (Parti Socialiste Unifié), and the third "revolutionary-Marxist" (mainly originating in the LCR).
This process of political unification is of decisive importance. It is obviously insufficient considering the problems of the period: the answer is to be found in a broader recomposition based on a widening of the Left Front and a moving away from its domination by a few separate - and often rival - organisations (what can be called its 'decartelisation'). However, our unification is a necessary first step, and the involvement of Gauche Anticapitaliste is important to guarantee its success.
(1) The five (or four and a half) components of the unification process:
FASE : Fédération pour une Alternative Sociale et Ecologique), 'post-Communist' with others. Founded December 2008, joined the Left Front in 2011;
GU: Gauche Unitaire (ex-LCR/NPA), founded and joined the Left Front in 2009;
C&A: Convergences et Alternative, left the NPA and joined the Left Front in 2011;
GA : Gauche Anticapitaliste, left the NPA and joined the Left Front in 2012;
Les Alternatifs, a 'red-green' party with roots in the Parti Socialiste Unifié (1960 to 1990), founded 1998, joined the Left Front November 2012.
The four remaining components of the Left Front, not involved in the unification process:
PCF (Parti Communiste Français)
Left Party (PG, Parti de Gauche)
PCOF (Parti Communiste Ouvrier de France)
République et Socialisme (R&S)