Monday 26 September 2011

Left Front Candidate Melenchon - Speaks in Lot-et-Garonne

French Left Presidential candidate Jean-luc Melenchon recently visited the rural socialist stronghold of Lot-et-Garonne, South West France.

Melenchon attended a dinner organised in support of the local Parti de Gauche candidate for the Senate at Les Baines du Roy in Nerac. Before the meal he symbolically planted a “tree of secularism” to mark the anniversary of the founding of the First French Republic (22 September 1792).

At the dinner Melenchon spoke about the need to build on the traditional local rural socialist base in areas such as Landes de Gascogne and the role of rural Communist leaders such as Jean Renaud of Neracois and Marmande .

He pointed out that the historical radicalism of the South West was not just based on land ownership, or the skills required for fruit production in the region, but to a culture of solidarity which was essential in social behaviour of the South West, He also refered to the importance of the Occitan language and impacts of French religious quarrels in the region (Huguenots and Catholic Dissenters) .

The valleys of the Lot-et-Garonne are to the French what Tuscany is to the Italians, a parallel supported by the large number of local descendants of Italian immigrants fleeing the violent  land wars in their homeland.

Lot-et-Garonne’s reliance on agriculture ensured that even today the price of fruit, vegetables and other farm produce is a key issue, it is the land of Ente plum Villeneuvois , Agen prunes, tomatoes and strawberries from Marmande.  

He condemned the banking speculators and monopolies which threatened local and national French farming. In the last decade France has lost 25% of its farms and 750,000 agricultural workers.

Melenchanon  criticised the right wing Senate “which serves to slow down what is progressives and accelerating all that is reactionary”

Addressing the Parti de Gauche (Socialists, environmentalists, republicans) he stated “By electing a candidate of the Left front they would be electing a powerful, implacable voice from the grassroots”.

The dinner was attended by over 400 supporters of Parti de Gauche (many of them trade unionists) and Melenchon stated that he was very impressed  with the high level concentration and attention given by the audience to his speech. 

French Left Front score 16.5% for its rural candidates in the Puy de Dome and the Lot and 11% in the Hautes Pyrenees
Jean Renaud

Jean Renaud born 1887 into a farming family, Worked on farms until drafted into the Army in WW1, wounded and discharged in 1915. Active in SFIO, Elected Communist Party Deputy in 1920. Responsible for Communist party rural afffairs from 1920. He Became a teacher in Agen, leader of the General Confederation of working Peasants. Died Lot-et-Garonne 1961.