The Quatennes scandal, internal reorganization… Rebellious France in the midst of a growth crisis

The sun is shining, this Sunday, August 28, near Valence (Drôme). Two months after becoming the leaders of the left and the opposition, the rebels gather for summer schools – “Amfis”. Since Thursday, 3,000 to 4,000 activists have attended this holiday camp to reflect, discuss, meet and celebrate. Founded in 2016 by Jean-Luc Mélenchon, LFI is impressive for its young age. But some journalists cannot help but ask themselves this question: is all this going on without Mélenchon?

Almost four months later, Jean-Luc Mélenchon hasn’t left — even if he’s made room on the front lines — but it doesn’t look exactly like plans for the start of the fall school year. With the October 16 demonstration as a starting point, the campaign against the high cost of living could not take the light overshadowed by the tragic and consistent management of the Adrien Quatennens case (which admitted to a coup in September). his wife) and finally, in early December, the quagmire of the movement’s reconstruction appeared, to say the least, opaque.

“The Besieged Castle”

However, when the parliamentary session began, probably everything could not be thrown away. The October 16 march was again a resounding success for a demonstration organized by a political party. In the only real debate week on the budget, LFI MPs managed to prove they know how to do something other than obstruction. Even several times “Who will compromise the most in the Chamber?” they managed to confuse the government in their game. “: there are these, MoDem’s super dividends, but not only. “We’ve never had unequivocal opposition,” lamented Eric Cockerell, LFI president of the finance committee, ahead of the debate. We voted on all the amendments and articles that we think are good in the commission. »

This fall, the rebels crossed the obvious: the movement’s “clan” (for opponents) or “personal” (for the nicest) function. “I don’t like the ‘besieged fortress’ aspect that the LFI sometimes takes,” explained one MP from the movement’s perspective in mid-November. True, we don’t only have friends outside. But it is not my philosophy to close everything in the name of it. This is what led to Adrien Quatennens’ defense against wind and tides. “It has become a constant media gimmick,” said Raquel Garrido, LFI’s Seine-Saint-Denis deputy. Finding themselves in front of a parliamentary group opposed to them, Jean-Luc Mélenchon and his friends never ceased to leak the idea of ​​his imminent return. He destroyed all political affairs! »

Relative democracy

For the deputy, one of the figures excluded from the new “coordination of spaces” of the movement, there is a direct connection between the handling of the Quatennens case and the controversial reorganization of the LFI. “When Jean-Luc Mélenchon takes the right line and goes after it, we know how to do it. But when there is dissonance, as in the case of Quatennens, who arbitrates? He got it right, hence the tightening reorganization without voting to legalize it. “” But Jean-Luc Mélenchon doesn’t solve everything, it’s not reality, protests a senior executive. He has neither the time nor the will. After that, yes, it is a moral authority. »

Let’s be clear: democracy in political parties is sometimes a very relative concept. In a way, LFI has been accepting part of the princely fact since its origin. The list simply consists of internal disagreements resolved by the departure of interested parties. It seems that everyone knew about it and put up with it until now. But those left out by the new leadership believe that the situation has changed. If the LFI can be flexible, focus behind its candidate, and therefore be extremely effective during presidential campaigns, we should also learn from the “inter-presidential” periods when insurgents are most visible. less efficient.

Pension exam

More than an argument between people or a struggle over the shape of the movement (honestly, the differences are slight), what La France insoumise is going through really looks like growing pains. “When you’re the first leftist, but also the party with the most resources, the stakes are not the same as when you were about fifteen people in a pizzeria 30 years ago,” says Raquel Garrido. And then La France insoumise did not come alone to this status and to this group of 74 deputies. If the PS, PCF and EELV can thank the rebels for opening the door to a broad alliance for the legislative elections, the first beneficiary remains the LFI. It is not a pessimistic prediction to bet that there would be at least half as many rebels in the Palais-Bourbon without the rest of the left.

Today, it is not a detail in the internal problems of the melenkhonist movement. Because if the actions of the rebels yesterday were mainly their problem, this new status of the leader of Nupes makes them feel the friendly pressure of their partners. This is clearly noticeable in the case of Quatennens: all the other parties at least spoke for the outright exclusion of the Lille deputy. In more modest voices about the reorganization of the movement: “The democratic question is the issue that divides the left of the Congress of Tours. [celui de la division entre socialistes et communistes, en 1920]it could re-emerge,” worried the pro-Nupes environmentalist MP.

“Our weaknesses weaken our fights,” judge Raquel Garrido. Kim sees more broadly: “A strong LFI helps a strong Nupes, which helps a strong union front against pension reform. Pension reform, or rather. The eyes of the rebels only look at him. The fight against the very unpopular postponement of the starting age to 65 is seen as a moment to restore the LFI and strengthen Nupes. By this criterion, the partial legislation planned for the end of January in Angoulême will be a test: it missed 24 votes in the LFI in June to win against the outgoing Macronist. It’s hard to see how the Suns can bounce back over LFI without a win.

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