The Front de Gauche is no longer a front, to judge by the frosty exchanges between former FG presidential candidate Jean-Luc Mélenchon and Communist party chief Pierre Laurent over the weekend. The cause of the rift is not far to seek. Mélenchon, the classic cavalier seul in politics, will be content to lose in a splashy way, as he did in the presidential elections. The logic of office-holding, patronage, dues collection, and party maintenance is not for him. So he can indulge his penchant for "heightening contradictions" and eschew any hint of "republican solidarity" with the Socialists, whom he accuses of kowtowing to the Germans, buying into austerity, and plotting to tear the social safety net. Laurent, on the other hand, has a party to run, a party headquarters to staff, and bills to pay. For him it isn't enough to keep his face in the TV news by making stinging attacks on the center-left. He needs the support of the PS to win the occasional town or city in the upcoming municipals, and he knows there is a price to pay for that support. So he is not happy with Mélenchon.
Of course Mélenchon might well respond that the PCF has been following Laurent's line for decades, and look where it has gotten them. On the other hand, Laurent could respond that Mélenchon revival of classe-contre-classe-style politics hasn't improve matters much, even if it allowed Mélenchon briefly to kindle a cult of personality around himself in the presidential campaign season. And so it goes.
Meanwhile, the wheeling and dealing over retirement reform has begun, with the CGT calling for a demonstration on Sept. 10.