The Socialist Party, in power since 2012, has forced the adoption of a new labour law (Loi Travail) in spite of resistance from some unions (especially from the Confédération Générale du Travail (CGT), France’s largest union), and implemented austerity budgets that are unprecedented since the Second World War. What are the stakes, in the 2017 legislative and presidential elections, for the union movement and more broadly for the working class?
Bernard Thibault: The President of the Republic and his government, like many before them, only recognise that they have failed workers during election time. They have disappointed not only by failing to keep their promises, but by implementing reforms that contradict the principles historically defended by the left, for instance in the case of the so-called labour law. The challenge of these elections – which does not get much attention in a political context dominated by scandals about elected officials and candidates – is to ensure that there is a focus on social issues.
Macron, the leading candidate according to survey results, presents a programme that is reminiscent of Tony Blair’s New Left: a mix of economic neoliberalism with progressive views on social issues. What does this idea of ‘going beyond the left-right divide’ inspire in you?