The following article was first published as the editorial of workplace bulletins distributed by members of L’Etincelle (The Spark) faction in France.

April 24, 2017

No surprise. The polls correctly predicted who would benefit from the discredit of the left and the right. On the second round of this electoral show, we will thus have… a non-choice: Le Pen or Macron.

Marine Le Pen wants us to believe she is close to the people, but her very bourgeois party has as much baggage as the other parties. Recall that last year the National Front (FN) wanted to extend the Work Law to make the Labor Code more flexible to the interest of small businesses. Its only programme is to stir up hatred against immigrants and people of foreign origin, and thus divide the workers. It only promises a future with lots of cops, jails, barbed wires. Against these ideas, many leftist voters and many workers might think about holding their nose and vote for the ex-banker Emmanuel Macron on the second round.

But he doesn’t need our votes: he already has those of the major parties on the left and on the right. And he is supported by big business. Why add our votes to that and give him a clear mandate for the austerity policy he intends to lead? We will not do it.

Their collusions

As for pretending that Emmanuel Macron is a defense against Le Pen, what a joke! Macron had been an advisor and then a minister of Hollande, whose governments led the pro-capitalist policy that caused a rise of the FN and its sickening ideas.

Before the first round, this finance offshoot was already supported by most of the government clique, including Valls, Le Drian, El Khomri and Le Foll, and by the former leader of the bosses’ union (Medef) Laurence Parisot. This is because he promises to make austerity even worse and increase the gap between rich and poor, as he has already done with the Macron Law, which foreshadowed the El Khomri law that angered us last spring.

The conservatives, whose candidate, Fillon, did not make it to the second round, now rally behind Macron for the same reason.

In and out of the voting booth

Philippe Poutou and Nathalie Arthaud, the two far left candidates, got very low scores: 1.1% and 0.7% (still over 600,000 votes). But the electoral score is far from truly representing how the working class received their ideas. We heard so many encouragements in workplaces, markets, metro and bus stations, the day after the TV debate when Philippe Poutou sent both Fillon and Le Pen packing. Of course the people who agreed with our ideas often preferred to “vote tactically”, as they say. That’s an illusion: even if your candidate wins, you can’t change the system by electing a smooth talker who will quickly break his promises. From Mitterrand to Hollande, or with Tsipras in Greece, it’s always the same story.

The social situation cannot be seen in the electoral shadow theater. Just look what happened in the French Guiana: it was not a year of electoral show that allowed the people of Guiana to get three billion from the State, for necessary social and education spending. It was a general strike. It will be the same here.

Macron already prepares new attacks: 120,000 public sector job cuts, the “liberation of work”, as he says, which means more flexibility, the “agreements” on lower wages, new attacks against pensions, removing the few remaining constraints for the bosses in the Labour Code, etc.

Now we need to prepare our response, our round, the round of social struggles.

The working class has very little say in the rigged electoral game, where we are only asked to choose between two evils. But the workers fighting spirit and solidarity could change the balance of power.