Tuesday, June 05, 2007

France In Flames

The stage seems set for a major showdown between capitalists and workers in France, following the election of right-wing candidate Nicolas Sarkozy to the presidency.

Sarkozy has been compared to George W Bush and Margaret Thatcher by friends and enemies alike, and he plans sweeping attacks on the working class, as demanded by international financiers. Sarkozy's Prime Minister François Fillon says France must prepare for an "electric shock". This is likely mean new restrictions on the right to strike, which will pave the way for changes to the 35-hour week, which was won by French workers in the 1990s. Hungarian-born Sarkozy also plans to further stigmatise immigrants, and especially the sans papiers (undocumented immigrants). Sarkozy showed his racist streak in 2005, when he described rioting Arab youths as "scum", and claimed poor suburbs needed to be "cleaned with a Karcher" (a type of industrial hose).

Most of the French ruling class seems to be lining-up behind Sarkozy, including members of the defeated Socialist Party (who have accepted posts in his cabinet), and trade union leaders. They know that previous assaults on living standards have been met with strikes and burning barricades, and are trying to put down working class resistance together.

But in a sign of things to come, there were riots all over the country as the election results were announced. Police responded with water cannon and tear gas. French workers will have to break with the union bureaucrats and 'left' parties if they're going to fight off this determined capitalist onslaught.
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