프랑스: 의회 선거에서 혁명적 전술


France: Revolutionary 
Tactics in the 
Parliamentary Election

 Break with popular front policy! No vote for bourgeois candidates – neither RN, Macronists nor Greens! Critical support for reformist candidates based on the working class and the oppressed!


인민전선 정책과 단절하라! 부르주아 후보들을 찍지 마라

국민연합도, 마크롱주의자들도, 녹색당도 다 반대

노동자계급·피억압자에 기반한 개량주의 후보들에게 비판적 지지를!

A Discussion Article by Michael Pröbsting, Revolutionary Communist International Tendency (RCIT), 2 July 2024, www.thecommunists.net








Crisis of the bourgeois regime


Is RN a fascist party?


The “bigger” and the “lesser” evil


On the popular front and the specific character of the NFP


How to fight the RN (and how not to)


The Marxist approach to electoral tactic


The French Trotskyists in 1936


Conclusions for the 2nd round of the French parliamentary elections


* * * * *







The results of the first round of the parliamentary elections have provoked a political crisis in France. Given the importance of that country as one of the two leading powers in Europe (beside Germany), this crisis has consequences for the whole imperialist EU. The purpose of this article it not so much to present a comprehensive analysis of the political situation but rather a discussion of the key tasks for revolutionaries in the current situation.


Let us start with a brief overview of the electoral results in the first round. Basically, Marine Le Pen’s Rassemblement National (RN), a right-wing populist party, could massively increase their support and got – together with its allies – 33.2% of the votes. Nouveau Front Populaire (NFP), a “left-wing” alliance of Mélenchon’s LFI, the Communist Party, the Socialist Party as well as the Greens, also increased their votes and received 28.1%. In contrast, Presidents Macron bourgeois alliance called Ensemble lost votes and became only the third force with 21.6% and the conservative Les Républicains also declined and got only 7.2%. (See Table 1 for more details.)




Table 1. Results of the 1st Round of the Parliamentary Elections in France (compared with last Elections in 2022), in Percent and Millions [1]


Parties/Alliances                           Share of Votes 2024 (2022)            Votes in absolute Numbers 2024 (2022)


RN                                                   33.2% (18.7%)                                10.6 (4.2)


NFP                                                 28.1% (25.7%)                                9 (5.8)


Ensemble                                       21.6% (25.8%)                                5.9 (6.9)


LR                                                    7.2% (10.4%)                                  2.3 (2.4)


Legend: RN: Rassemblement National (& Allies); NFP : Nouveau Front Populaire, Ensemble (Macron’s Alliance) ; LR : Les Républicains




Crisis of the bourgeois regime




The first interesting paradox of these election is the following. With 66.7% turnout at the elections was the highest since 1997. At the same time, the result reflects the crisis of the ruling class because its preferred parties – the centre-right around Macron resp. the conservative Republicans – were the losers of this election.


What we have seen is a massive polarisation with an advantage for the right-wing populists of RN. While the “left-wing” NFP could increase their vote by a bit more than a half (in absolute numbers), the LePenists could expand the number of their voters 2.5 times. This shows that the reformist and populist left has been much less able to mobilise disappointed sectors of the masses than RN. This is hardly surprising because most forces of the NFP have a long record of participating in bourgeois governments in the past and of focusing on electoral politics instead of mass mobilisations on the streets.




Is RN a fascist party?




All leaders of the popular front alliance are calling now for an alliance with the “republican” parties in order to stop Le Pen. This means that they advocate electoral pacts with Macron’s Ensemble or even the conservatives so that they can defeat RN candidates in the second round. It is only logical that such an approach will also lead them to agree to a coalition government with the same forces resp. to support a bourgeois minority government “in order to stop RN”.


Such a policy is usually justified by claiming that RN is a fascist force. Such an argument is wrong in every respect. First, it is not true – and in fact misleading – to characterize Le Pen’s party as fascist. Marxists consider those right-wing forces as fascist which seek to smash the workers movement and democratic rights via militant mobilizations and street terror. Mussolini’s Black Shirts, Hitlers’ SA or modern Neo-Nazi groups which focus on physical attacks against migrants, Muslims, sexual minorities or left-wing forces – these are fascist forces. [2]


Such an approach is based on the analysis of fascism as it was elaborated by Leon Trotsky: „Fascism may assume different aspects in different countries; it can be diversified in point of social composition, but in its essence fascism is that combat grouping of forces which is moved to the fore by threatened bourgeois society in order to repel the proletariat in a civil war. When the democratic-parliamentarian state apparatus becomes entangled in its own internal contradictions, when bourgeois legality hampers the bourgeoisie itself, the latter sets in motion the most combative elements at its disposal, freeing them from the fetters of legality, and obliging them to employ all the methods of force and terror. This is fascism. Therefore fascism is a condition of civil war on the part of the bourgeoisie, just as we have the grouping of forces and the organization for an armed uprising in the epoch of civil war on the part of the proletariat. We thereby say that fascism cannot represent a protracted and, so to speak, “normal” condition of bourgeois society, just as a condition of an armed uprising cannot be a constant, normal condition of the proletariat.“ [3]


From such fascists, one has to differentiate right-wing populist forces which aim to take power by parliamentary elections, and which try, to a more or lesser degree, to transform the existing bourgeois-parliamentary system in an authoritarian, Bonapartist direction. Hence, it would be mistaken to believe that such forces coming to power would outlaw the workers and popular organizations and create a dictatorship.


There is no need to speculate about such issues as we have already a long experience with such right-wing forces coming to power. Take Trump, Hungary’s Orban, Italy’s Meloni and her Fratelli, the Austrian FPÖ, the PiS government in Poland, Milei in Argentina, etc. – all these have been reactionary forces in government but one could hardly claim that they destroyed the workers movement, abolished democratic rights and established a fascist regime.


This does not mean that such right-wing populist forces would not constitute dangerous enemies of the working class and the oppressed. Indeed, such forces try to limit democratic rights, attack national and sexual minorities and wipe up chauvinist hatred. In fact, they reflect a general trend which we see already since a number of years and which the RCIT has pointed out repeatedly: a shift towards chauvinist state bonapartism. This development, in turn, is a result of the deepening economic and political crisis of capitalism which pushes the ruling class to attack democratic rights and to keep power via more authoritarian methods. [4]


However, such shift towards bonapartism is not only reflected in a strengthening of the right-wing populist and racist forces. We have seen a similar development within the mainstream bourgeois camp of liberalism and conservatism. Indeed, Macron himself is an excellent example as he initiated a reactionary Islamophobic campaign which repressed a number of Muslim organisations and glorified racist outfits like Charlie Hebdo. [5] Similarly, the French state worked hard to repress the pro-Palestine solidarity movement since 7 October. [6] Add to this the bonapartist police state response to the COVID crisis not only in France but by most bourgeois governments around the world.


In short, the crisis of the capitalist system has provoked the ruling class to push for a general shift towards bonapartism and all sectors of the bourgeois camp – from right-wing forces to liberal and social democratic parties – are supporting this trend.




The “bigger” and the “lesser” evil




One could object that while this might be true, at least one has to admit that the right-wing forces are worse than the liberals and social democrats. This is the usual argument which claims that one should support the “lesser” evil in order to stop the “bigger” evil.


First, it is not so clear who is the the “bigger” and who is the “lesser” evil. Don’t forget that social democratic governments have often been key to push through reactionary attacks because they could restrain the trade unions (e.g. Jospin initiated more privatisations of state enterprises than his conservative predecessor; it was Schröder’s SPD which implemented Hartz IV). Life has been hardly better for the masses in Biden’s America than in Trump’s, or under those governments without the Austrian FPÖ than those which included them. Biden’s unlimited support for Israel’s genocide against the Palestinian people with thousands of bombs and billions of dollars is another example which shows that bourgeois liberals are hardly the “lesser evil”!


More importantly, the class struggle takes place, first and foremost, on the streets and the workplaces – not in the parliament. Hence, the question if a government can push through reactionary attacks or not, depends on how much the workers and popular organisations mobilise the masses and to which degree is the ruling class united in their strategic goals. As a result, we have seen right-wing governments which collapsed because of their instability (e.g. Austria in 2002 and 2019) or were in a deep crisis because of the inner contradictions of the ruling class (e.g. Trump 2016-20 or the British Tory government).


Likewise, we have seen that such right-wing governments can provoke so much popular resistance that they are pushed towards the abyss (e.g. the Black Lives Matter movement in the U.S. in summer 2020 which paralysed the country, the global pro-Palestine solidarity movement which deepened the crisis of the Tory government and pushed other governments to soften their pro-Israel stance).


In the case of Le Pen’s RN one could add that while such a government would most likely accelerate racist attacks against migrants and as well as support for the Zionist genocide, it could also deepen the crisis within the ruling class since the monopoly bourgeoisie is strictly pro-EU. They big capitalists are aware that only the strengthening of pan-European imperialism could ensure the French ruling class a strong position in world politics (which is the policy of liberalism a la Macron as well as of social democracy). Hence, a more national-centred policy like the RN is advocating, may be combined with a policy of accommodation with Russia, would certainly provoke strong opposition by this sector of the ruling class. [7] As we have seen in the case of the Trump Administration, such deep contradictions within the ruling class can result in a semi-paralysis of the state apparatus.


In the end, it is the subjective factor – the role of the working class and the oppressed resp. their organisations – which decides about the fate of the class struggle, not the specific form of the capitalist rule.




On the popular front and the specific character of the NFP




The NFP calls itself a popular front and it is right to do so. A popular front is a “coalition of the labor parties with the Radical bourgeoisie”, which means an alliance in which reformist parties with (petty-)bourgeois forces in which they subordinate themselves to the later. [8] Lenin and Trotsky repeatedly warned against the danger of such a coalition since it can not but result in the surrender of independent working-class policy and a grave danger for the masses. Numerous examples in history have demonstrated this – from the coalition of the Russian Mensheviks and Social Revolutionaries with bourgeois forces in February to October 1917, to the popular front governments in France and Spain 1938-39, in Chile 1970-73 or in Greece in 2015-19.


In the case of the NFP we have a coalition of thoroughly reformist forces – rotten bourgeois workers parties like the ex-Stalinist PCF (and Glucksman’s PSF) [9] as well as Mélenchon’s left-populist LFI which has significant roots amongst the workers, migrants and youth (as has been very visible in the pro-Palestine solidarity movement since 7 October) – with the bourgeois Green party. The later – like nearly all Green parties in Europe – had its roots in the ecologist movement and was initially a petty-bourgeois protest formation. However, this was decades ago and since then they became – again like nearly all other Green parties – openly bourgeois forces which have become integrated in the capitalist system, participated in coalition governments, etc.


Marxists strictly oppose any form of popular front and call the reformist parties to break their alliance with bourgeois forces. Given the fact that the popular front is such a widespread feature (not only in Europe but also in Asia and Latin America where various popular-front parties exist), Trotsky called the popular front “the main question of proletarian class strategy for this epoch”. [10] The task of communists is to fight against the popular-front ideology and to call for the rupture of such alliances. As Trotsky wrote, the Bolsheviks’ “demand was to break this People’s Front, to destroy the alliance with the Cadets, and to create a genuine workers’ and peasants’ government.” [11] Revolutionaries have to advocate such a policy also today.




How to fight the RN (and how not to)




The NFP’s answer to the threat of a right-wing RN government is thoroughly reformist and popular-frontist. They want to beat the reactionaries not via mass mobilizations and the creation of self-defence units but by electoral and governmental alliances. In fact, their policy is to expand the popular front to an even worse version of the popular front. This is the meaning of their current maneuvers to make deals with the “republicans”, i.e. with Macron’s Ensemble or with Les Républicains. If RN fails to get an absolute majority in the second round of the election, it is likely that the NFP will try to negotiate with these bourgeois liberal and conservative forces about forming a joint government resp. about supporting a minority government in the parliament.


Such a policy is damned to have catastrophic consequences for the working class and the oppressed. It would mean that these “left-wing” parties would use their support for the government – allegedly indispensable in order to avoid a RN government – as an excuse not to mobilise against the inevitable attacks of such a “republican” administration against the masses. Hence, the reformist parties would make it likely that such a government could succeed to implement their reactionary attacks.


Furthermore, any support of “left-wing” parties for a Macronist government could not but further discredit these parties in the eyes of the masses and push them to support RN, the supposedly alternative to the institutional left.


This is why it is so crucial for revolutionaries to fight against the policy of the popular front. The RCIT advocates mass demonstrations and strikes – up to a general strike – to stop a right-wing government. We call for the formation of action committees in workplaces, schools and neighbourhoods in order to organise the struggle. Such committees could start with bringing together activists, but they should strive to expand and to include the masses. They should elect delegates which set up a national coordination. They should also create self-defence units in order to protect the masses against fascist or police attacks.


At the same time, socialists must organise pressure from below in order to force the bureaucratic leaders of trade union and reformist parties to effectively aid such mobilisations. It is these leaders which have massive administrative resources, and which still have the trust, at least to a certain degree, of the more progressive and class-conscious sectors of the masses.


As part of such a strategy, revolutionaries must work towards breaking up the popular front, i.e. by demanding from the reformist parties to end any form of collaboration with bourgeois forces. This means to call the LFI, the PCF (and the PSF) to end their alliance with the Green Party and to terminate any support for bourgeois candidates at the second round of the election. Likewise, there must be no support or even participation in a bourgeois government.




The Marxist approach to electoral tactic




While Marxists consider the mass struggle as decisive to fight RN or any other bourgeois government, we do not ignore the field of parliamentary elections. As we wrote in the RCIT’s Theses on the United Front Tactic: “Revolutionaries should also, if possible, apply the united front tactic during election campaigns. Elections, particularly in periods of low-level class struggle, are an important arena of class struggle. Revolutionaries strive not to stand aside when class-conscious sectors of the proletariat participate in the electoral campaign and the elections themselves; rather they undertake to intervene with appropriate tactics. This means that, when it is not possible for revolutionary communist candidates to stand, we can give electoral backing to the candidates of the mass working class organizations, in particular those who have the support of the most militant sections of our class. In general, critical support for non-revolutionary workers parties is a legitimate tactic for helping class-conscious workers to overcome their illusions in reformist leaderships.” [12]


It is important to emphasise that such critical support for reformists is not because they would have a better program or policy than openly-bourgeois parties, or because they are the “lesser evil.” Quite the opposite, revolutionaries need to warn the working class that the policy of the reformists can only lead to defeat.


No, Marxists apply the united front tactic on the electoral field primarily because of the organic relationship between the reformists and the sectors of the working class (usually reflected by the social composition of such parties respectively their close relations with trade unions or other popular organizations). The goal is rather to help workers make their experience with such reformist forces so that they can overcome their illusions. As Trotsky once explained, taking the example of the British Labour Party, Marxists “must say to the workers: ‘The Labour Party will deceive you and betray you, but you do not believe us. Very well, we will go through your experiences with you, but in no case do we identify ourselves with the Labour Party program.’” [13]


The Communist International of Lenin and Trotsky and later the Fourth International advocated such a method of critical electoral support for non-revolutionary workers parties. It was such an approach that led Lenin to call the British communists in 1920 to support the Labour Party and Trotsky advocated the same in the 1930s in Britain or in Belgium. [14]


It is a principle that socialists must not vote for an openly bourgeois party or a popular front party or alliance. Trotsky strongly denounced his former comrades in the Spanish POUM when they supported a popular front in 1935-36. As we stated above, Marxists oppose popular fronts and call the reformist forces to break their alliance with bourgeois parties.


However, there can be circumstances where the electoral system allows to differentiate voting for reformist candidates from supporting bourgeois candidates within the popular front. In fact, this is the case in France where one does not vote for a party but for an individual candidate within an electoral district. Hence, one can vote, for example, for the candidate of a reformist party within a popular front alliance in district X but refuse to vote for the candidate of a bourgeois party within the same popular front alliance in district Y.


The RCIT has stated in its above-mentioned theses that such critical support for a reformist candidate within a popular front can be legitimate. “Electoral support for such a (bourgeois or popular-front, Ed.) party would not represent a step towards class independence but rather towards subordination of the workers and oppressed to the bourgeoisie. We should demand that all workers’ and peasants’ parties break with bourgeois candidates whom they have enrolled on their list, or break from a popular front list. In certain circumstances we may still vote for the candidates of the workers’ or peasant party on a popular front list, if we take care not to vote for, or crossing off the list, the bourgeois candidates.


Naturally, such critical support for reformist parties has to be combined with strong denunciations of their leaderships’ popular-frontist policy.




The French Trotskyists in 1936




This was also the approach of the French Trotskyists in 1936 when they lend critical support to the candidates of the Communist and the Socialist party (which had established a popular front with the “Radical Party”, a bourgeois-liberal force which represented a sector of the bourgeoisie). They attacked the reformists for withdrawing their candidates in favour of a bourgeois Radical. Only in such districts where the reformists had withdrawn their candidate did the Trotskyists try to stand their own candidate against the bourgeois representative. Trotsky was critical of their comrades that they did not energetically enough implement such a policy.


Had revolutionary working-class candidates been run on the second ballot in all the electoral districts in which the Socialists and Communists withdrew in favour of the Radicals, they would, no doubt, have obtained a very considerable number of votes. It is unfortunate that not a single organisation was to be found capable of such initiative.” [15]


What should have been the tactic of revolutionaries in the first round of the French election? In general, it is absolute legitimate for Marxists to try utilizing elections to spread their program. This is what several organizations like Lutte OuvrièreNPA-Révolutionnaires or Revolucion Permanent tried to do. However, the elections did also show that they represent only a small sector of the working-class vanguard since all self-proclaimed radical left-wing organisations collectively received no more than 1.15% of the votes.




Conclusions for the 2nd round of the French parliamentary elections




In conclusion, the RCIT considers it as important to relate to the progressive sectors of the workers and oppressed who want to stop the right-wing RN from taking power. Hence, we call to lend critical support for reformist candidates standing against bourgeois representatives. We denounce the popular front policy which results in withdrawing reformists candidates in favour of Macronist (or other bourgeois) candidates.


We therefore agree with the comrades of NPA-Révolutionnaires who called in a press release published on the day after the first round of the election. “For this second round on July 7, we say "Not a single vote for the RN or Macronism", but not the slightest confidence in the electoral promises of the institutional left. Where nevertheless a candidacy of LFI or the PCF would face the RN, or where, exceptionally, a candidacy of other left-wing parties would justify it, we will call for a vote for these candidacies. Without any confidence in the policy that the electoral alliance represented by the New Popular Front will lead, but in solidarity with voters whose choice it is and who are often comrades in the struggle.” [16]


Such critical electoral support must be combined with calls for mass mobilizations against any future government of the bourgeoisie and for the formation of committees of actions as well as with an denunciation of the popular-front policy of the reformists.


There is no doubt that French politics in general, and the workers vanguard in particular, experiences a decisive period which could become a turning point in one way or another. It is therefore crucial that revolutionaries join forces on the basis of a combat program for the current period.


Break with popular front policy!


No vote for bourgeois candidates – neither RN, Macronists nor Greens!


Critical support for reformist candidates based on the working class and the oppressed!




[1] Le Monde, Édition Spéciale, 2.7.2024, p. 1

[2] See on this our German-language pamphlet by Michael Pröbsting: Faschismus - Was ist er und wie bekämpfen wir ihn? (2006), https://www.thecommunists.net/home/deutsch/faschismus-broschuere/

[3] Leon Trotsky: Perspectives of World Development (1924), https://www.marxists.org/archive/trotsky/1924/07/world.htm

[4] See on this e.g. RCIT: Bourgeois Democracy in the Age of Capitalist Decay and the Revolutionary Struggle for Democratic Rights, September 2023, https://www.thecommunists.net/theory/bourgeois-democracy-and-the-struggle-for-democratic-rights/; see also chapter II in our book by Michael Pröbsting: The COVID-19 Global Counterrevolution: What It Is and How to Fight It. A Marxist analysis and strategy for the revolutionary struggle, RCIT Books, April 2020, https://www.thecommunists.net/theory/the-covid-19-global-counterrevolution/.

[5] See on this RCIT: Boycott Imperialist and Islamophobic France! Solidarity with the Muslim migrants! Drive out the French occupiers from Mali and other countries! 26.10.2020, https://www.thecommunists.net/worldwide/europe/boycott-imperialist-and-islamophobic-france/; Yossi Schwartz: Down with the Islamophobia in France: “We Are Not Samuel!”, 20 October 2020, https://www.thecommunists.net/worldwide/europe/down-with-the-islamophobia-in-france/; see also Michael Pröbsting: France: “Our Republic”? Social-Chauvinism and Capitulation to Islamophobia by the Left, 2 November 2020, https://www.thecommunists.net/worldwide/europe/social-chauvinism-and-capitulation-to-islamophobia-by-the-french-left/

[7] See on this e.g. RCIT: European Imperialism: A Shift towards Armament and Militarisation, 4 May 2024, https://www.thecommunists.net/worldwide/europe/european-imperialism-a-shift-towards-armament-and-militarisation/; see also Michael Pröbsting: ‘Americanise or bust’. Contradictions and challenges of the imperialist project of European unification, in: Fifth International, Vol.1, No.2 https://www.thecommunists.net/theory/eu-imperialism-americanise-or-bust/.

[8] Leon Trotsky: The New Revolutionary Upsurge and the Tasks of the Fourth International (July 1936), in: Writings of Leon Trotsky 1935-36, p. 339

[9] There is a legitimate debate among French Marxists if the PSF is indeed bourgeois workers parties or rather a bourgeois left-liberal party which has is main bases amongst the middle class. There are strong indications that it is rather the later. (See on this also our book by Michael Pröbsting: Marxism and the United Front Tactic Today. The Struggle for Proletarian Hegemony in the Liberation Movement and the United Front Tactic Today. On the Application of the Marxist United Front Tactic in Semi-Colonial and Imperialist Countries in the Present Period, May 2016, pp. 45-46, https://www.thecommunists.net/theory/book-united-front/)

[10] Leon Trotsky: The Dutch Section and the International (15-16 July 1936), in Writings of Leon Trotsky (1935-36), p. 370

[11] Ibid

[12] RCIT-Theses on the United Front Tactic. Theses on the Principles of the United Front Tactic and Its Application to the Current Conditions of Class Struggle, 9 April 2016, https://www.thecommunists.net/theory/united-front-tactic/

[13] Leon Trotsky: Once again the ILP (November 1935), in: Trotsky Writings 1935-36, p. 199

[14] For a more detailed elaboration of the RCIT’s approach to critical support see the above-mentioned Theses on the United Front Tactic as well as our book by Michael Pröbsting: Marxism and the United Front Tactic Today.

[15] Leon Trotsky: The Decisive Stage (1936), in: Leon Trotsky on France, Monad Press, New York, 1979, p. 157

[16] NPA-Révolutionnaires : Contre l’extrême droite et ceux qui lui ont pavé la voie, aucune solution ne viendra des urnes : l’avenir est dans nos luttes ! 1 July 2024, https://npa-revolutionnaires.org/contre-lextreme-droite-et-ceux-qui-lui-ont-pave-la-voie-aucune-solution-ne-viendra-des-urnes-lavenir-est-dans-nos-luttes-communique/