PS candidates signal continuity with French President Hollande’s policies
14 January 2017
On Thursday night, seven Socialist Party (PS) and allied presidential candidates participated in the first nationally televised debate in the run-up to the PS presidential primary on January 22 and 29.
The debate takes place amid a historic collapse of the PS—one of the French bourgeoisie’s main ruling parties since its foundation in 1969—which has been deeply discredited by President François Hollande’s agenda of austerity, police-state rule and war. At 4 percent approval ratings, Hollande is France’s most unpopular president since the creation of the office in 1958. Hollande himself has declined to stand again, and there are rising fears in ruling circles that the PS could disintegrate and collapse, like its social-democratic sister party, Pasok, in Greece.
This underscores the extraordinary character of Thursday’s debate. The fears of the imminent annihilation of the PS notwithstanding, not a single candidate could make a forthright criticism of Hollande or call for a shift in policy in the interests of working people. The seven presidential candidates all signaled, in their own fashion, that they would continue the basic thrust of Hollande’s despised agenda.
The first speaker was Hollande’s former prime minister, Manuel Valls, the candidate most directly representing Hollande’s legacy. He issued a bald defense of Hollande’s policies of austerity, police-state build-up, and appeals to far-right sentiment, while cynically presenting his candidacy as a barrier to those of the conservative François Fillon and the neo-fascist Marine Le Pen.
“According to every prediction,” Valls said, “the left will be eliminated from the second round…