Francis Smaïl is a CGT shop steward – délégué du personnel – at Air France at the Roissy Charles de Gaulle Airport, near Paris. The history of the persecution he has suffered over many years cannot be told here. But we want to bring most recent developments to the attention of workers, both in France and internationally.

On 5 May, more than 100 000 demonstrators marched through the streets of Paris in answer to a call from the Left Front, around the demand for a “Sixth Republic”. The Left Front is essentially an alliance between the Communist Party (PCF) and the Left Party (Parti de Gauche), led by Jean-Luc Mélenchon. The attendance shows the capacity of the Left Front to mobilise massive support, as it did on an even more impressive scale during the presidential elections one year ago.

Below we publish an interview with Jean-Luc Mélenchon, leader of the left wing formation Front Gauche in France . Jean-Luc Mélenchon participated in the French presidential elections earlier this year and received 11,1% of the vote. For more material on Mélenchon please read the following articles (Mélenchon as candidate of the Left Front – What campaign, on what programme? and Massive support for Mélenchon). The interview was first published in the French Marxist paper La Riposte.

Since François Hollande came to power in May, unemployment figures have increased every single month. They have now gone over the 3 million mark. If we add those people who are surviving on a few hours work but who are registered as looking for a steady job, these official figures rise to 4.5 million. It is estimated that another 1 million people are out of work but, not being entitled to benefits, they are not registered at all.

The defeat of Nicolas Sarkozy in the presidential elections opens a new phase of the class struggle in France. The socialist candidate, François Hollande, won 51.62 % of the vote. However, this overall score tends to conceal the social basis of the election result. Practically all the major towns and cities voted massively for Hollande – or, to be closer to the truth, to get rid of Sarkozy.

The results of the first round of the presidential elections in France mean that the second round will be fought out between Nicolas Sarkozy and the Socialist Party candidate, François Hollande. Opinion polls consistently suggest that Hollande is most likely to win, although the very high score obtained by the Front National candidate in the first round, indicate that Sarkozy still has considerable reserves to draw upon for the second round. The main advantage Sarkozy has, apart from his own pugnacious and combative attitude, is the pro-capitalist character of the Socialist Party programme, which could lead to a demobilisation of left voters.

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