Friday, 14 January, 2022

Laurent Berger, the new “pivot” of the left


The millions of citizens who installed François Mitterrand and François Hollande at the Elysee Palace, who gave the parliamentary majority to social democracy and who have elected for forty years so many socialist mayors in most large cities, these millions of citizens are lost. Their left, in fact, sank and disappeared in a few years, at breakneck speed. In the recent history of Western democracies, this is not that common.

A significant number of these French people chose Emmanuel Macron for the 2017 presidential election; they even constituted its electoral base in the first round. The “neo rocardism” displayed suited them rather. Two and a half years later, let’s agree that about the Head of State, they doubt, in particular his economic and social policy. Yet all the polls show that, for all that, the majority of them have not deserted the ranks and participate (more or less) 30% who maintain their confidence in Macron. A paradox, no doubt … But in a large part of the so-called “moderate” left, the fear of emptiness serves as a reminder of macronism.

But it is easy to hear and understand the great anguish of the Social Democratic voters. The PS? In the process of groupuscularization, accelerated left-handedness and, in this context, of no interest since offering no prospect of reconstruction then of power.

Mélenchon and France Insoumise? These voters hate even populism “on the left”, demagoguery and the hysterization of political debate. For having done too much, Mélenchon lost them, probably forever. There remains political ecology. In a certain number of metropolises, Bordeaux or Montpellier for example, a “Green” wave could upset the municipal vote in spring 2020. Opinion studies seem to announce a significant progression which will create a serious political difficulty for Emmanuel Macron and the Republic in March, but not only: a again powerful Green pole will accelerate the agony of the PS and the decomposition of LFI.

Berger, new charismatic figure of social democracy

So the voters of the moderate left taken aback? The supporters of social democracy of power lost? Without a doubt, and this poorly implemented pension reform only increased their dismay. They certainly did not expect this presidency, this government, this power, this majority, to show as much amateurism, lack of foresight and lack of preparation as this reform, a priori “left”, defined from the start as “progressive”, provokes such a political and social explosion. But … The Social Democrats and the progressives did not expect the appearance, the blossoming, of a new charismatic figure in the person of Laurent Berger.

Yes, social democracy has found a foothold in the person of the secretary general of the CFDT. Not a political leader likely to recompose the left – Berger insisted on making it clear that he does not and will never leave his union office. Not a candidate for the next presidential term or even a major opponent of the two “presidential” today? Macron and Le Pen. Nothing of the sort.

So what? A voice, a word, a coherence first of all taking into account the “common good”, this concept inherent in social democracy. Laurent Berger is not a tribune but the French, if they do not necessarily hear him, listen to him and respect him. It is hardly used these days. This is why Emmanuel Macron takes Laurent Berger’s “competition” very seriously. Among the progressives, the voice of the trade unionist has undoubtedly gained the upper hand over that of the president. This other French curiosity is not trivial.

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