Over the weekend several million people took part in demonstrations in Paris and many provincial cities of France. The government and the whole official establishment had called for the demonstrations and announced their participation. On Sunday evening, Prime Minister Manuel Valls, declared that the people had rallied “behind President” François Hollande.

As I write these lines the drama in France has just been brought to a bloody climax ending in the death of the two men who killed the staff of Charlie Hebdo. This denouement was as inevitable as the ending of a Greek tragedy. There was no realistic prospect of any other. Three days of high drama that captured the attention of the world have ended with twenty dead, a further unknown number of wounded and a nation in a state of trauma.

The terrorist attack against the French satirical weekly Charlie Hebdo has caused a huge wave of anger and indignation throughout the country. In the evening after the attack over a hundred thousand people took to the streets of many cities. The revulsion aroused amongst the masses by this brutal terrorist act has been exacerbated by the fact that many of the victims were very popular and held in high regard.

In the recent municipal elections in France the right wing did well, mainly at the expense of the Socialist Party which pays a heavy price for carrying out draconian austerity measures at national level. Unfortunately, in many towns the Front de Gauche (Left Front) split, with the Communist Party forming an alliance with the Socialist Party, and the Parti de Gauche (Left Party) presenting joint lists with the Greens.

Nearly five years after it was formed, the Left Front [Front de Gauche] is passing through a turbulent period. In a number of cities – and not minor ones at that – the French Communist Party (PCF) and the Left Party (Parti de Gauche, PG) have decided not to stand joint lists in the first round in the March 2014 council elections.

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.

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