En good navigator, he loves sailing cruises, Jean Glavany keeps his calm in the storm. The former chief of staff of François Mitterrand at the Élysée is, of course, no longer very involved in national or socialist political life, but he takes a distanced look at the upheavals which agitate his party. In almost fifty years of activism, he has known everything, the SFIO, Épinay, May 10, 1981, the turning point of rigor, the electoral failure of 1993, the slow agony of the PS… The former minister appreciated by the Agriculture is worried, very. The disaster of Anne Hidalgo, following that of Benoît Hamon in 2017, also signs in his eyes the end of the party of Épinay. He thinks that the PS of today, forced to sign an electoral agreement with LFI, is even more ectoplasmic than the SFIO in 1969, which still managed to unite 5% of the voters. Jean Glavany is severe with Olivier Faure and the party leadership. He considers them responsible for letting the PS sink. Which, for a navigator, is obviously tragic.
Point : How did you, former traveling companion of François Mitterrand, react to the announcement of the agreement signed between LFI, the PS, the PCF and the ecologists?
Jean Glavany: This agreement touches on contradictory feelings, which are due to my experience and my commitments. First of all, I see a positive aspect. I approve of this agreement because it reflects a desire to unite the left, from the Melenchonists to the Socialists, including the Communists and the Ecologists. This need for unity is expected by the electorate on the left, in particular by young people. The French are consistent people. They will probably give a majority to Emmanuel Macron. It is therefore necessary to form a strong left parliamentary opposition.
But I disagree with the way the Socialist Party has been treated. Jean-Luc Mélenchon imposed a leonine contract. The tradition of electoral agreements on the left is the Republican withdrawal in favor of the candidate best placed in the first round. However, the Nupes agreement puts in place a pure and simple ban on standing and defending socialist ideas in the vast majority of constituencies.
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Is it therefore a historical precedent on the left?
Yes. Throughout the history of the left, the signatory parties only proceeded in this way, that is to say with a single candidate from the first round, in the constituencies where the left risked being eliminated from the second, or if there was a danger of victory for the extreme right. The novelty, which I condemn, is that we force the socialists, but also the communists and the ecologists, to put their flag in their pocket. We come to unbearable situations such as the ban on Lamia El Aaraje, the outgoing socialist deputy of the 15and constituency of Paris, to stand again. And we argue a decision of the Constitutional Council to claim that she is not the outgoing deputy (her election was invalidated because of another candidate)… It is shocking, politically, democratically, morally.
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This absolute absence of work and the obsession to save one’s places is pathetic
The PS had little choice. He negotiated under duress, which is never good in a negotiation!
This is obviously the central question. This leonine agreement is the result of the deplorable state in which the current leadership has brought the party. She did nothing for five years. Benoît Hamon’s result in 2017 (6% of the presidential vote, editor’s note) was nevertheless a warning shot. There was no analysis of the causes of the failure, no inventory of François Hollande’s five-year term, which nevertheless marks the period of collapse, no draft project, nothing on strategy either. This absolute absence of work and the obsession to save one’s places is pathetic. There is not a company in the world, not a football or rugby club, where management would still be in place after such a fiasco. At the PS, conversely, we do not change a losing team!
It even raises a moral question. In my region, I hear elected officials and activists tell me: “Party leaders and negotiators served themselves well by granting themselves protected constituencies! And we who are on the ground, with the legitimacy of our local elections, our militancy and our work recognized, we would not have the right to present ourselves? They are legitimately revolted, and there is likely to be a lot of dissidence. But let’s remove the word “dissidence”: these will be legitimate candidacies compared to those of the apparatchiks.
Do you think, like others, that the PS has just signed its death warrant with Jean-Luc Mélenchon?
No. The PS has been dead for several years. The current situation only confirms the observation. Hence the urgency: to build something new.
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How does this agreement precipitate the end of the PS?
In the past, on the left, we signed electoral agreements that did not erase the identities of each party. The socialists remained socialists, the ecologists, ecologists. The common program of 1972 like the plural left of 1997 did not mean the disappearance of the signatory parties. Especially since disunity often followed union. When François Mitterrand was elected in 1981, the PS was in full disunity with the PCF, the two parties exchanged very harsh blows. The common program dates from 1972, but from 1975 we witnessed the beginning of disunity and the rupture occurred in 1977. An electoral agreement must therefore always be taken with caution. It is not a merger of parties. But with the Nupes, we impose the withdrawal of the candidates of the partner parties. That it is said that the communist mayor of Vénissieux cannot run, when she is an elected representative of quality, is incredible. It is a profoundly undemocratic logic.
In the history of agreements on the left, have there always been such major disagreements between the signatory parties as those which seem to exist today, such as the derogation from European rules, the exit from NATO or the conception of secularism?
Other times, other manners ! And comparison is not right. But let’s say that the differences were real, deep, probably more so in 1972 or 1981 than in 1997. But the desire for union often prevails based on a simple factor: respect. It is too often said that democracy is respect for the majority fact. Is. But we forget its inseparable complement: respect for minorities. It seems to me that the latter was singularly lacking in the circumstances…
If the PS is dead, what should those who want to defend its ideals do? Go to Macron?
Surely that’s not what I’m suggesting. We must build a reformist, republican, secular and social government force against Emmanuel Macron, alongside the pole of radicalism represented by LFI. The two elements, the electoral agreement on the left and the construction of an opposition force, must coexist.
To say that we will derogate from European rules is a form of lying.
Do you rank among the elephants who, according to the leaders of the PS, thrive on the current difficulties of the party?
No. Unlike others, I take the electoral agreement as a positive signal. I approve of its unifying principle, but I contest its anti-democratic content. I don’t want to join those who contest the whole thing and who cannot be the ones who are going to rebuild the PS. However, I remain optimistic. There remains a space for a force which, according to the Camusian definition, combines the defense of freedom and the fight against injustice. It’s still terribly modern.
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The electoral agreement provides for the possibility of derogating from the rules established by the European Union. Isn’t this, for a socialist, the abandonment of an ideal, the European construction?
This is an essential question. French political leaders, left and right, are incapable of teaching Europe. Even Emmanuel Macron sinned in his fair but arrogant speech five years ago on the future of the European Union. In France, there is always this vain attitude according to which we will make Europe alone. Other countries obviously find us very arrogant! Europe is being built at 27, through compromises, which are not compromises. To say that we will derogate from European rules is a form of lying. We can and we must say how we want Europe to evolve (and there is work to be done!), we can and we must work on building a balance of political forces to do this. But we cannot let the French believe that Europe will obey our dictates.
In an excerpt from the show 7/7 dating from 1997, we see Lionel Jospin, future Prime Minister, discuss the possible abandonment of the 3% deficit rule to avoid accentuating rigour. The defenders of the Nupes electoral agreement use it as an argument to say that there have already been precedents…
Jospin had said that he could do it if necessary, and by discussing with the other countries. Besides, we didn’t have to. But to say that we will decide alone for 26 other countries is mad arrogance coupled with a lie to the French.