How does France feel about communism?

"We are a force on the move," said party leader Pierre Laurent at the 36th Congress of the Parti communiste français (PCF), which has just ended. It is a throw-away movement with which the French communists are attracting attention: They are throwing hammer and sickle to the scrap iron.

Congress decided to remove the historical symbols that were once supposed to symbolize an alliance of workers and peasants from membership cards. The PCF, which later emancipated itself from Stalinism and the Soviet Union, wants to prove its modernity in this way. At the same time, the congress confirmed Laurent with 100 percent of the votes in office. So there should still be a bit of tradition.

Long gone are the days when the PCF was the largest party in France. Founded in Tours in 1920, the party was heavily involved in the resistance against the Nazi occupiers. It was called the "party of the shot dead". In the 1946 elections, the Communists became the strongest party with 26 percent and entered the government under General de Gaulle.

For a long time they remained the most important force on the left until they were overtaken by the socialists under François Mitterrand in the early 1980s. According to their own statements, they still have 130,000 members today. The PCF has several senators, MPs and MEPs, hundreds of mayors and thousands of local councils.

In national politics, on the other hand, the communists are only of minor importance. In order to win seats in elections, they depend on agreements with the ruling socialists of President François Hollande. On the other hand, they want to distance themselves from its social democratic politics in order to satisfy their own, far left-wing electorate.

Party leader Laurent used strong words at the Congress. Europe is a "machine in the service of the milieus of financiers and bosses". The EU is ruled by the leading classes of the most powerful countries, especially Germany. They force a fatal austerity policy on the peoples.

Left French prefer Left Party

Laurent promised his supporters that he would try to dissuade the government from its social democratic course. The communists are calling for some redundancies in large companies to be banned, for the current, rigid labor law to be retained and for foreigners to be given the right to vote.

In the Senate, the communists sometimes vote against government proposals. But their maneuverability is limited. The socialists are already threatening to stop entering into electoral alliances with them "if its only aim is to weaken the President of the Republic and the government".

Many left-wing French prefer to turn to the populist Left Party and its vocal leader Jean-Luc Mélenchon. In Paris it is said that the communists are between the socialists and the Left Party as between hammer and anvil. The abandonment of hammer and sickle is commented on on the Seine with melancholy ridicule. It is the only revolution the communists are capable of.

© SZ from 02/13/2013 / esp / rus