A French left without workers?

The rise of the French National Front evokes alarm on the left. Actually I think Marie Le Pen is unelectable whoever she runs against. The Presidential system in France was introduced to marginalize the Communist Party which could never secure a majority in a Presidential contest. Now the system works against the National Front. Whoever runs against le Pen is assured of victory. My concern is somewhat different. The National Front attracts increasing support from manual workers, Arthur Goldhammer in April:

A new poll has Marine Le Pen drawing more working-class votes than either DSK or Sarkozy…This is not a new phenomenon, and there has been some discussion in the literature of its sociological basis (e.g., the way in which the FN supplanted Communist Party social organizations in declining industrial regions as the PCF began to bleed members after 1989). Still, to the extent that anything like a coherent working-class culture remains in France, it is sad to see the FN making such inroads. It should be said, however, that 36% support for Marine Le Pen corresponds to 64% non-support. One needs to measure the lack of enthusiasm for the alternatives before drawing too firm a conclusion about the FN’s strategy.

France may give us a left victorious without workers. What lessons for Australia? I am more bullish about the electoral prospects for the Australian left (defined as ALP + Greens) than many observers. Labor currently sits on 46% 2PP and it seems plausible this could be pushed up further, so even if Labor lost in 2013 they might poll 48% 2PP. But what would the left’s support base be?

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