- The PS's "moratorium" on Nupes seems to be turning into a pure and simple separation from Nupes.
- But for what alternative strategy? For the moment, it's a big blur.
- So much so that one wonders if the PS had the means for this "moratorium"...
On 15 November, the Assembly voted on yet another motion of censure, which followed yet another 49.3. But this time, the motion wasn't just rebellious. Communists and ecologists had also signed it. Not the socialists. André Chassaigne, the president of the Democratic and Republican Left (GDR) group, where the Communists sit, had taken the initiative to call his counterparts from other left-wing groups to organise a unitary motion. Mathilde Panot, the rebel, and Cyrielle Châtelain, the ecologist, quickly agree. "When I called Boris Vallaud [the president of the Socialist group], he told me that he could not commit to his group in such a short time, we only had a few hours to table the text."
And for good reason: the group is divided. About fifteen deputies are campaigning to sign with the ex-Nupes, including Boris Vallaud and Olivier Faure, the first secretary. But LFI MP David Guiraud's statements on Israel in the preceding days have chilled some. In the end, the decision was made not to sign the motion but, as usual, to vote on it. "We are also the only group, along with LFI, where there is not a single vote missing for the motion. It was our way of counterbalancing it... But it's illegible," said a unionist socialist. Illegible is also the word one is tempted to use to describe the Socialist Party's strategy since Hamas' attacks in Israel massively upset the game on the left: "We find ourselves on the defensive on a ridge path," sums up Arthur Delaporte, a PS deputy perceived as the most pro-Nupes.
The Nupes without the Nupes
After a hesitation, the PS decreed a "moratorium" on its participation in the NUPES in mid-October. The Socialists no longer participate in it until a reflection – which no one hopes for – on the functioning of the alliance is not initiated. In fact, there are no more intergroup meetings in the morning... And that's about it. The links with LFI remain important: "We voted on their motions of censure, the deputies of each committee continue to work together. There are convergences! ", says a Socialist cadre. The latest episode to date: the appeal to the Constitutional Council against the full employment law has been signed by all the groups of the former Nupes. The only thing missing was the logo on the press release.
This annoys some LFI deputies: "If we consider that we are indeed accomplices of Hamas, then we can't make friends every two hours in the corridors" The problem is that with 32 deputies, the socialist group doesn't really have a choice. It is impossible to table a motion of censure, an appeal to the Constitutional Council or to weigh in on the debates. "If we decide not to sign anything because of this or that LFI deputy, we won't be able to do anything between now and the end of the mandate. It quickly gained consensus. But we're going to have to let some time pass," said a Socialist Party unionist deputy.
"Not the right reason to break with LFI"
The question then arises: does the Socialist Party have the means to carry out its moratorium? "That's a good question... ", the same acknowledges. First on the form: can the Socialist Party apply to itself what it demands of France Insoumise, that is to say to renounce its freedom of speech as a party and agree first on each subject with its partners? Would he, for example, be able to accept without flinching a left-wing coalition that decides by a majority to give up the Toulouse-Castres motorway, for which the PS president of Occitanie, Carole Delga, is fighting? It's very doubtful.
Secondly, on the substance. Six weeks after Hamas' terrorist attack on Israel, the positions between the Socialist Party and France Insoumise are very similar: demand for a ceasefire, international humanitarian law, two-state solutions... Certainly, France Insoumise still stubbornly refuses to label Hamas as terrorist. This is notable, but not everyone sees it as a fundamental problem. "I'm convinced that we've demonised too much," admits a Socialist MP. Especially since I do not believe that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is a reason for division in France: it fascinates Parisian editors but not people. This is not the right reason to break with LFI. On this summer's riots, it would have been more coherent. »
Even Olivier Faure seems to want to put a stop to the rapid demonization of the rebels over the past four weeks: "Maybe we shouldn't look for one controversy a day," he said earlier this month on Public Senate about the interpretation of Jean-Luc Mélenchon's tweets. Recalling that, all the same, LFI had acknowledged the crimes of Hamas.
"We were kind of caught up in something that forced itself on us... but now it's done," said the Unionist PS MP quoted above. Another thinks that the rupture came sooner than everyone imagined (during the European election campaign next June), and that the party was not prepared for it. As a result, the PS seems to be returning to its position of Macron's first five-year term: a party that gives the impression of not knowing where it lives, and whose positions are defined like the movements of a tumbler under the blows of current events. "We can't fall back into this artistic blur where we seem to be the left wing of Macron, we are an opposition party!" warns Philippe Brun, a Socialist MP with a unionist tendency.
To sum up, the Socialists saw in the post-October 7 controversy a golden opportunity to get rid of Jean-Luc Mélenchon. They went into battle with their swords in the clear and clearly assuming their strength. But at the end of November, Jean-Luc Mélenchon, who is probably not in his best shape, remains far, far ahead of all the other options on the left, according to the polls. "It's normal," says a person close to Olivier Faure. Most people only get interested in politics once every five years. For most of these people, the leader of the left, the useful vote, is always Mélenchon. The question is: how do we change this state of affairs? That's the work for the next few months. »
Still, there have been a lot of changes of heart: towards a union at the beginning of 2021, then a very anti-Mélenchon socialist candidacy in 2022, then the Nupes, finally an unprepared break... "History shows that crises are always surpassable," says Arthur Delaporte. Because political situations never stay the same. There are always changes in the context, facts of the game, major events that finally make us say that what brings us together is stronger. All this is true, the Nupes itself was an unexpected event. But for the Socialist Party, it would be better if the next game happened quickly.
- Olivier Faure
- Socialist Party (PS)
- La France insoumise (LFI)
- Jean-Luc Mélenchon