In the French presidential election, Jean-Luc Mélenchon is the socialist who was most likely to reach the second round of the elections. Danièle Obono is an MP for La France Insoumise (Rebellious France) and an Afro-feminist, anti-globalist and eco-socialist activist. She is the deputy to Mélenchon. We provide the translated interview she gave for the French socialist website Contretemps. She discusses the program of the Rebellious France and what is taking shape around the Parliament of the People’s Union, as well as appropriate “day after” strategies to implement their program. Because there is no doubt that such a program of rupture with neoliberal and neofascist logics requires the means for its application, in the first place the vital articulation between social mobilizations and a government of the left.

Danièle Obono is a Gabonese-French politician serving as the member of the National Assembly for Paris’s 17th constituency since 2017. She has also been the spokesperson for Rebellious France.   

The aim of the review Contretemps is to feed the strategic and theoretical debate within the radical left in its diversity; what it publishes does not necessarily reflect the plural viewpoints within its editorial board. The original French version is available at:


Contretemps: To begin, let’s go back to your political trajectory. First you have a militant within the Trotskyist movement, at Socialisme par en bas (SPEB), an organization linked to the Socialist Workers’ Party (SWP) in Britain, then to the Revolutionary Communist League (LCR) and to the New Anti-Capitalist Party (NPA). Then you joined the Left Front and Rebellious France. In Marxist language, it looks like a shift from the revolutionary left to the reformist left. Beyond this prism, what common thread would you identify between these two political perspectives? Rather than opposing them, how to think together – a reformist political framework and the revolutionary potential of social mobilizations?

Danièle Obono: I would not characterize the movement of Rebellious France as reformist, I would rather say that it has a strategy of social, democratic and ecological transformation. On the other hand, I do believe that there is a difference in strategy compared to the currents that provided me with and that have shaped part of my political reading and analysis grid. I believe that we carry a revolutionary strategy – and nothing else. It is different from that, more classic in the radical left, which would take the form of an insurrectional general strike, because it passes, in fact, by a democratic and majority seizure of power, within the framework of contemporary bourgeois parliamentary institutions. . However, this strategy is also and above all based on the idea that it is a question of mobilizing the people concerned, the workers, according to the Marxist creeds that “it is the women and the men who make history” and ” the emancipation of workers must be the work of the workers themselves”.

The sociological reality of contemporary populations in Europe and in the world having changed a great deal, our analysis has widened beyond the working class stricto sensu of the 20th century. This is why our strategy aims at a mass alliance between the popular categories, employees and workers (in other words the working class in the broad sense), and the precarious middle class, or at risk of precariousness, and more generally the intermediate professions. Some call this analysis grid “populist”, and it is so in a way because it envisages as a revolutionary subject not only the “class” but the people as a whole. But for us, it is always a question of creating a balance of power between categories with antagonistic interests, which constitutes a lever for change. Here, the cleavage on which we rely is that between the 99% and the 1%, between those who monopolize the majority of resources and wealth, and the rest of the population, composed mainly of workers who have interests goals to defend.

It is therefore a question of a Marxist and materialist analysis whose red thread (and green) is the idea that today there is a fundamental civilizational issue, that of the ecological bifurcation, given the endangerment of the ecosystem that makes human life possible. This issue, which concerns all of humanity, is the driving force behind our transformation project. It articulates with the social question, since the degraded answers are traversed by the class divide – this is the whole difference between our ecological current and other ecological currents.

The risk vectors of ecocide and endangerment of humanity have been accelerated by the industrial and post-industrial capitalist system. And the capitalists are also prisoners of this system that they have put in place, as Marxist analysis underlines it with regard to the alienation engendered by capitalism, just as the colonizers are prisoners of an ideology which dehumanizes them. A question now arises for all: how can we change the world today? This is for me the same initial question that we are trying to answer collectively, and I think that it must be done by convincing a majority.

With Rebellious France, we intend to change the world in circumstances that we did not choose – this too is an old Marxist creed – and which are those of bourgeois institutions, with the obstacles and the risks that this implies of remaining prisoners of these institutions. Nevertheless, it is also a question of relying on the dynamics of the masses, on the lever of self-organization in the trade union, democratic struggles such as those for equal rights, and the ecological struggles. During these last five years, Rebellious France has tried to build a sort of front between social struggles and their political expression.

Contretemps: Is this what Aurélie Trouvé called the “Rainbow Block” in a recently published book?

Daniele Obono: Yes. The conclusion she comes to was reflected in particular by her joining the campaign and this convergence materialized through the People’s Union Parliament (PUP). I find the experience of Rebellious France interesting as a movement born of an electoral campaign to support a candidate and which has been able to maintain a movement dynamic without becoming a party, albeit with the difficulties that entails. Today, through another presidential campaign, the movement is changing scale and nature by calling for a broader dynamic, that of the Popular Union.

The PUP is the result of the convergence of work between elected officials and parliamentarians, at the national and European level of Rebellious France and, for the other half that composes it, trade unionists, associations, intellectuals, etc. , with whom we have collaborated over the past five years. Constituted to support the candidacy of Jean-Luc Mélenchon and participate in the campaign, it makes it possible to work together on the political balance of power in society, to impose watchwords and to advance in the ideological battle. Our slogan “Another world is possible” is the updating of the anti-globalization fight for twenty years now, which is roughly the time during which I have been active, since I entered militancy with Attac. It took twenty years because these are also cultural battles that we managed to win, with the idea that capitalism is not the end of the story. We have managed to reopen horizons: the idea of ​​anti-capitalism, the realities of financial crises, the ecological question… We are part of these stories and this is what we have tried to translate within the framework of this campaign in particular, with all the limits of the institutions of the Fifth Republic.

Thus, we have opened and widened gaps and imposed class themes, wealth sharing, etc. in the debate. This analysis effectively joins the path taken by Aurélie Trouvou and others who participate in this reconstruction of the balance of power which challenges the cultural hegemony of capitalism.

Over the past few years, we have all, from where we were campaigning, carried out strategies to challenge the dominant ideology. The challenge now is, through this campaign, to translate this dynamic together at the institutional political level, by taking power. Knowing that, at the social level, the movements and struggles of recent years, in particular the Yellow Vests and the fight against pension reform, also reflect the fact that there is majority social resistance against political projects and economics of the ruling classes. At the level of the class struggle, at the level of the political and ideological battle, we have a radical revolutionary strategy, that is to say, which goes to the root of the problem: the system of exploitation and oppression of a minority over the majority. There are differences with other currents but the dynamic remains similar to what I was able to learn and understand from the world when I started to be active in the radical left.

Contretemps: Rebellious France lays claim to a “gaseous” form of political organization, a demonstrably effective tool for running presidential campaigns, but which failed to organize the political camp it brought together during the 2017 election. the construction of a party, with well-identified local and internal structures and democratic functioning, remains necessary to last over time and to establish itself in the territories. On the other hand, one has the impression that Rebellious France is slipping away in favour of something that is being built on the side of the Parliament of the People’s Union. Do the political re-compositions that are taking shape within the framework of the PUP aim to form the outline of a new political party whose modalities would of course remain to be reinvented?

Danièle Obono: At this stage no, there is no explicit or implicit strategy to build a party. Since the launch of Jean-Luc Mélenchon’s candidacy a year ago, our objective has been to seize power. Rebellious France is not a party but an organization serving this objective. It remains the engine and the main infrastructure, including for deploying the means and organizing the energies of the Popular Union. This infrastructure has flaws and limitations. When we take stock of the electoral failures – which we recognize as being failures – they must be included in the paradox of the electoral results in the overall political landscape, of everyone, whether in the municipal, regional or even European. Thus, with regard to the most recent municipal and regional elections, it is the traditional outgoing forces, in particular the PS and LR which have been renewed and consolidated, but in an ocean of abstention which does not make them conquering forces either, especially when we observe their dynamic in this presidential election. As for the LREM, the party in power, we see that its results at the local level are disastrous.

There is a particular dynamic at the level of the intermediate elections, and we failed since we had significant ambitions at the end of the presidential elections, that is clear. But this cannot be understood apart from the bursting and disjunctions which are true for the whole of the political field, in addition to the level of abstention which says the democratic stall. None of the forces are part of a dynamic of linear conquest, in part because we are in a moment of multifactorial crisis.

From Rebellious France‘s point of view, these electoral failures also reflect the relative youth of the movement. Even if Rebellious France is the result of organizational dynamics – initiatives of the Left Party founded in 2009 by Jean-Luc Mélenchon and which itself stems from a fraction of the Socialist Party – it is nothing compared to the history of the Socialist Party or the French Communist Party, nor of the LR party whose antecedents are the UMP and the RPR, which have built an anchorage over fifty or sixty years, even a century of history. So here too, we must scale the experience of Rebellious France not to relativize but to understand why we do not have sufficient anchoring springs. And we had them all the less because our strategy was to refuse to fit into the usual partisan paradigms, because we wanted a tool that responds to the reality of the class struggle today, which is a class struggle diffuse.

When we founded the Left Front, we tried to articulate the form and the dynamics of the parties with something that was broader than the latter. And it did not succeed, partly because the apparatuses – I am thinking of the French Communist Party – were incapable of overcoming each other. This is the conclusion we have made. For the French Communist Party, the alliance with the Socialist Party is a strategy for the survival of the apparatus – a strategy which prevailed over everything else. With the Left Front, we observed how the dynamics of maintaining and reproducing the device – the device must be saved – becomes an obstacle. This confirmed the idea that we did not want to reproduce the form “party”. We have therefore tried to use the broadest, most massive lever, that is to say the presidential campaign, which also has limits but which, in what exists today, makes it possible to address the greatest number and achieve the most important anchorage.

We have created, therefore, a tool for the purpose of the presidential election. We did not achieve this objective in 2017, so we had to adapt. We have had discussions to develop Rebellious France form and it has indeed evolved (even if this is little studied) with the constitution of representation bodies: the coordination of spaces, programmatic conventions, GAs of action groups, etc. So certainly, it is not in a form of representation of tendencies and fractions, including because this partisan form in tendencies, from my point of view, has not demonstrated its greater democratic or organizational effectiveness. .

In Rebellious France, there is an intermingling of procedures. It is indeed the members of the movement who vote on its orientations during conventions. There are also forms of designation/cooption for the facilitators of the thematic booklets. Today, the thematic teams formed have carried out unprecedented work: a program made up of around fifty thematic booklets and 694 measures. This program is the foundation of the movement. We have structured the organization (if not the party) as producer of the programmatic and intellectual matrix. The parliamentary group ensured, in fact, the political direction of the movement.

The local action groups (AG) met in AG assemblies several times (despite the discontinuities linked to the health crisis). These AG assemblies are a space where AGs nominate representatives who discuss their organization. There were several programmatic conferences, several conventions, which determined the main axes and roadmaps, and at each deadline a roadmap was put to the vote.

All of this has not made it possible to overcome the limitations and weaknesses inherent in the organizational form of Rebellious France, in particular the lack of anchoring, but this structure has been strengthened over the past five years and it has worked in the sense where it has already succeeded in maintaining a network of activists, AGs, which have today made it possible to welcome the many people who have arrived with the effect of the presidential campaign, to the point that certain AG meetings last two three times their usual size. I think that the form of movement has worked in the sense that it manages to adapt to temporality: in moments of less democratic effervescence, it maintains an organizational framework that makes it possible to ensure functioning, and in moments of bubbling, it is able to welcome and absorb new people.

There is certainly a lot to complain about, what we have built has limits but deserves to be analyzed and criticized on the basis of what it really is. Because many speak of Rebellious France with an extremely caricatural vision reducing it to “Jean-Luc Mélenchon and his circle”. However, this does not correspond to reality. This description is also insulting to the activists involved in it. Of course, there are debates, criticisms, to institute more internal discussions, but responding to them is less obvious than one might think.

Locally, we try to avoid crystallization around local potentates. For example, with regard to the AGs, we did not wish to perpetuate the coordinations at the departmental or regional levels (because they existed), because that captures the representation and the legitimate voice on the basis of who was there before (in this case the old militant structures), and because it prevents self-organization. There are people who want to be an activist, to lend a hand from time to time, but do not want to be in AGs. And if one form is legitimized over another, self-organization is hampered. Therefore, if activists cannot agree for such and such a reason, we suggest that they make their own AG, the objective not being to agree on everything and designate a single door -speech – because that is sometimes the local logic – but to be constantly turned towards political action, on the condition that it is part of the program and that it complies with the rules of ethics (with anti-racist, anti-sexist principles, etc.).

We refused to perpetuate the structures of delegation of power to maintain this possibility that each group of activists is as legitimate as another, each one being able to set up their AG, via the platform, and carry out their political action in their corner, rather than risk the capture of representation through the traditional instances of a party. It’s a debatable choice, but so far I find that what we lose on one side is less than what we can win on the other.

Contretemps: OK, but suddenly what is taking shape around the Parliament of the People’s Union is not aimed at eventually forming a new political party?

Danièle Obono: For the moment, no. We present the dynamics of the campaign as the Popular Union to make it clear that those who are not in AGs and who want to do things can do it. For the moment, the PUP is a structure that welcomes all those who agree with the program and who support the candidacy of Jean-Luc Mélenchon. It is only that. Nevertheless, the plasticity of Rebellious France form is interesting in the sense that it allows to open up and to consider maintaining the framework of the PUP, the contours of which would need to be defined.

In my opinion, the PUP has already transformed the core leadership of the IF because we work in an intergroup with the animators of the PUP. There is no doubt that the success of this parliament will give birth to something else, but we do not know what yet, the current objective being to win the elections. If we reach the second round, we will call on the other candidates and political forces to join us, to make a contract of government, and then it could be within the framework of the People’s Union. In fact, this process would modify the IF whose organizational structure is able to adapt very quickly to new realities.

Contretemps: A deep gulf separates the inhabitants of the suburbs from the left – and from the French Communist Party in particular, which Roussel’s candidacy confirms. Yet Melenchon is the most popular candidate in the suburbs today. Also, initiatives are driven by activists from the neighborhoods, the most recent being “We get involved 2022”, a national network of working-class neighborhoods which calls for a Melechon vote. What was Rebellious France ‘s strategy vis-à-vis the suburbs? Is not the construction of a real political party an essential means of organizing the popular classes beyond the elections? Shouldn’t we reinvent the place of the suburbs, with its specific questions and its political actors, in a party, especially in its management bodies?

Danièle Obono: The results of the last five years on this issue are mixed, with weaknesses but also strengths.

Despite the fact that we have MPs from popular constituencies from strong votes (even if abstention remains high), we have not yet sufficiently succeeded in weaving, from there, a real network, in particular with the grassroots associations, and to participate in revitalizing citizen activism while it exists (and it did not need us to exist). We have not been able to build enough joint dynamics with these networks. This is a limit that can be exceeded thanks to the presidential dynamic, the national figure of Jean-Luc Mélenchon, and our political positions that have marked the political landscape. With the radicalization of the right and the far right, the fact that we have held on to anti-racist and republican fundamentals constitute forms of political clarification that have given credibility to our program and our political message. This is also why we have today this mass support in the working classes of the peripheral urban and rural districts, and that we have this credit on the part of the militant, political and associative sectors.

As for how to reinvent the place of the suburbs, it is also a question of the balance of power. There is indeed a gap between what we can defend in terms of representation and the reality of representation. The fact that I am the only black female MP, while we have five MPs from Seine-Saint-Denis, which is a multicultural department, is one of our limits. And this is also true for the question of parity. Representation is a battle: who speaks in whose name, etc. This requires continuing to fight this battle and building a balance of power.

The alliances that are built through calls and support for Melenchon are shaking up the form of representation and it is necessary to deploy proactive work to integrate this representation within the framework of the process of evolution and adaptation of the Rebellious France tool at the service of the space that is the Popular Union today. It is therefore obvious that the dynamics of this campaign, if it is to generate something else afterwards, will question the place of all the actors in the political and social field, in particular those who are structurally the least well represented. This is a process that is ongoing, despite the weaknesses of our work on this issue over the past five years, since we had the levers to do better and more. Because the challenge is not to congratulate ourselves on the fact that Melenchon is the most popular candidate in the neighborhoods: this popularity must be translated politically. The people concerned must take the step of politics, not simply by going to vote. One of the objectives of this campaign is the political re-engagement of popular categories. For some residents, going to vote on election day means going against decades and decades of relegation and systemic violence. That’s why we have to be consistent all the way to show that this effort is worth making.

Contretemps: The issue of racism is not frankly addressed in the program of the Future in Common. On the other hand, we find this notion of “creolization”. The use you make of it is ambitious and positive: it is no longer just a question of being anti-racist but of reinventing a national narrative. In a context where the “great-replacement” thesis is becoming popular on the right, you come up with “creolization” which is a diametrically opposed reading. Could you tell us a bit more about the social vision behind the concept of “creolization” and how it relates to anti-racism in France? Moreover, Rebellious France and Melenchon have taken quite salutary positions on Islamophobia, which is today one of the locomotives of the neo-fascist dynamic. How do you plan to combat Islamophobia? Are you considering the repeal of Islamophobic laws?

Danièle Obono: For information, we have a booklet on equality and the fight against racism which should be out shortly, it responds to the analysis and the proposals we are making.

The borrowing from Edouard Glissant is the product of several years of analysis and dialogue on these issues and, indeed, we are proposing another national narrative, opposed to the ethnicist national narrative of the extreme right, of the right, and part of what was the left. I am not at all a specialist in Glissant or Caribbean thought, in the sense that it is a very rich intellectual, philosophical and political thought, which cannot be reduced to “creolization”. Moreover, we always emphasize the fact that we are borrowing, citing the reference and explaining that we draw from it what allows us to make a proposal in the debate.

“Creolization” is not a fixed theorization, it is a concept that contains many elements of reflection. What I find striking and extremely exciting in this concept is that it conveys the complexity of class struggle and struggles for emancipation. The very fact that this concept is drawn from the experience of the Caribbean and the West Indies already places it in a conflicting history: that of a forced, violent encounter between populations, whether those enslaved, coming from Africa or those , exterminated, of the Americas. Perhaps not everyone has this reading within Rebellious France, but the idea that I retain, for my part, is the fact of recognizing the antagonism and the domination inherent in this meeting, as well as the resistance of the peoples and what they produced at the end of this meeting. Indeed, peoples are not only enslaved and enslaved, they produce resistance against domination and identities in the face of oppression. Creolization is the production of something new, something borrowed, and which is us. It contains an unexpected dimension, as well as the point Jean-Luc Mélenchon. Creolization is a historical fact of encounter between populations; cultures are built like this, most often through frontal shock. It is from this history that our society is the product and that we are part of society. Rediscovering this history is not part of the project, it is reading historical, sociological, cultural facts, from which we draw a national narrative. To the question “what makes a nation?”, we answer that it is the forced or desired adherence to a territorial reality, to a political project and to fundamental and republican rights. This partly answers the question of racism.

I am not going back on the nature of systemic racism, I am only insisting that racism is not a diversion. Racism is a structuring division, it is the ideological binder for the right and the far right and for some people who identify with the left. It is against racism, against the national ethnicist narrative that we have taken clear positions.

Another dimension of racism today is the way in which LGBT rights and feminism are exploited, I am thinking of femonationalism, or the fight against anti-Semitism, in an attempt to disqualify anti-racist struggles. This is why it is necessary to continue this work of analyzing the springs and means of opposing Islamophobia, systemic racism, negrophobia and also anti-Semitism. This is work that must be carried out within the framework of political representation and that of demands.

Within Rebellious France, there are different assessments of what is considered to be Islamophobic laws or not. Some consider the 2004 law on religious symbols to be an Islamophobic law, but not everyone, there is no consensus. On the other hand, we collectively demand the repeal of the separatism law of 2021. I don’t know if we would all have been so clear on this five years ago, I think that the development of Islamophobic attacks and the struggles waged by activists against this racism have clarified things. We affirm today that the separatism law is a discriminatory law that targets Muslims, that it is anti-secular and therefore we demand its repeal.

There are still elements of clarification to be made, but the difference in appreciation of the 2004 law has not prevented taking firm positions against Islamophobia, lately on the instrumentalization of the struggle of Hijab wearers. This is where we are in these debates.

Contretemps: Let’s tackle the scenario where Melenchon wins the elections. We know that a long battle will immediately begin against the dominant classes who will use all the levers in their possession to maintain their hegemony, and that therefore it will not be the “social peace” that Melenchon promises. If the program of Rebellious France is not integral socialism but to get out of neoliberalism and impose socializing reforms in capitalism, recent experiences of similar proposals have shown that this is already too much for the dominant fraction of the bourgeoisie and that it will require the support of an organized social movement. How not to fall into the same traps as Syriza mutadis mutandis? What role will social struggles have in enforcing the program? What articulation between social movement and political organization should be envisaged?

Danièle Obono: If we win, we don’t expect social peace, but an intensification of class warfare. Through this formula of “social peace”, Melenchon was addressing workers and employees, it was a way of telling them “the €1400 will be right away, no need for strikes to apply these measures immediatly”. This formula is aimed at people who do not have the means to go on strike, and not at the ruling classes to whom he says “I am going to pick your pockets”, because the money for the immediate measures, we will take it right away.

As for the day after, we know, of course, that from April 25 – and in fact from between the two rounds – the devices, first of all media, but also of the infrastructure of the dominant, will be widely mobilized. This is something that has been thought about, by Aurélie Trouvé and the economists with us, we are anticipating a possible capital control for example… So of course Syriza’s experience has been useful to us, we have seen its limits. Beyond the moment and the tactical choices, I think that the strategy of Tsipras and Syriza was not up to the confrontation. Syriza’s experience helped us to understand that we had to increase the level of conflict, including with the European Union, by putting disobedience on the table. For example, on the question of Europe, we are announcing that we are going to disobey by using the institution’s weapons, in this case the “opt-out” (suspension of participation in common EU policies ), without even having to decide to leave the EU.

We have the tools to build a balance of power with the EU. The neoliberals’ adherence to the rules meant that they did not use them. However, we can use the “opt-out” in the service of our policy. Of course, it will be essential that there are social mobilizations to build the balance of power in the face of the media avalanche against all the measures that we want to put in place. It will take social struggles to counter the offensive of the dominant classes. And on a day-to-day basis, when rents are frozen and local tenant associations make sure that these rules are respected, people will see in their reality what goes against what the ruling class is going to bugger them. They will see, in their companies, the CHSCT [1] imposing the balance of power on employees, they will see the recovery of Amazon warehouses…

Social struggles will be essential for the experience of struggles as such, and for giving us the legitimacy to implement our policies, and even to go further. This history tells us: there are a lot of measures of the Popular Front government that were implemented because there were strikes and occupations. We know that we will have an administration that will not always be ready for change, even for some who in theory agree with us: they will have to make an effort to deconstruct the thirty years of neoliberal management. We know that we will find resistance in the state apparatus and in the administration. This is why it will be essential to build the balance of power through social struggles to apply our program.

Contretemps: Regarding the EU that you mentioned, it seems that there is a setback on this issue between the 2017 and 2022 programs. The possibility of an exit from the eurosystem no longer appears as clear as was the case in 2017 with plan B. We can read in the thematic booklet on Europe the idea that the “European Central Bank will not take the risk of such a financial collapse and the disappearance of the euro” by speculative attacks on France’s debt. However, it is obvious that the European Central Bank and the European neoliberal governments will not passively assist in the implementation of the program of the Common Future. And the EU has important levers to block a break by the left with neoliberalism. What strategy is being considered in place of the 2017 Plan B?

Danièle Obono: I think there is an underestimation of the work done recently. In 2017, we did not make a specific proposal. We had plan A and plan B: plan A we negotiate, plan B we do anyway. We had not gone beyond because, at the time, we did not have the ideas as precise and developed as today. And, in fact, what we are formulating here amounts to the same approach of plans A and B, even if it is formulated differently. The idea of ​​the “opt-out” comes down concretely to plan B: that is to say that if the rules do not change within the EU, then we will do as we see fit.

In the booklet “Our strategy in Europe”, we assume the confrontation by saying that we are going to put in place our program but also that we are proposing the reform of the institutions, of the European Central Bank, etc. Nevertheless, we affirm that we will not wait for these reforms to implement our program. In the short term, we have the possibility of resorting to “opt-outs” and we will do so. In the medium term, it is either the reform of the institutions of Europe or the explosion. Because we believe that if Europe is not reformed, it will eventually collapse, and it is not a bluff to say that. Brexit has taken place and the pressure on the States continues. If one of the main powers, France, opts out on major issues, the EU will not be able to function for long.

So either we renegotiate the EU rules or we don’t respect them. It is therefore this dynamic of confrontation that we wish to stimulate at European level, and this is not insignificant. Even if Greece had done it, with France it will not have the same effect, including because the current context is different from that of five years ago. The Covid crisis is over, there are elements that give us arguments in the direction, for example, of putting an end to the European rules on the public deficit and the public debt of 3% and 60%… In the end , thanks to the work done by our MEPs in the European Parliament, I find that our strategy vis-à-vis the EU has been enriched, it is much more successful than in 2017.

Contretemps: There are experiences in Europe that are more or less comparable to Rebellious France, for example Die Linke in Germany or Podemos in Spain, as well as a multiplicity of configurations. In the case of Podemos, the question of participation in a government dominated by the Spanish Socialist Workers’ Party (PSOE) arose. In Belgium, the PTB does not govern with social democracy. In Portugal, the Left Bloc supported a Socialist Party government but without government participation to end up breaking with this government a few months ago. How do you position yourself in relation to other left experiments in Europe?

Danièle Obono: We are very attentive to what is happening in other European countries. During this term, I was a member of the European Affairs Committee, and I was in regular contact with Die Linke comrades. These observations were able to confirm certain options, while putting them back into context.

The French institutional nature and the dynamics around the presidential elections have given us a more favorable balance of power, I think, than the other political forces in Europe, due in part to the nature of their systems. In 2017, we won part of the battle for hegemony against social-liberal forces. Admittedly, there was the failure of the elections, but we have become the main force of political opposition on the left and of the alternative. And we have succeeded in maintaining this state of affairs: the positioning of Jean-Luc Mélenchon confirms it today, and it could be confirmed in an even more significant and decisive way this time. This contrasts with the configurations in which the Spanish comrades, etc., found themselves, because they never managed to take the ascendancy or an ideological lead over the others. This is what put them in a relationship of dependence, critical support or participation, each time unfavorable to the radical pole they represent.

Our current position in the polls and in the results, it is hoped, will allow us to propose a People’s Union government between the two rounds. It will not be a rallying to Rebellious France, but a government agreement and a majority agreement, on the basis of the program that has been brought to mind. We will propose it to the radical ecological forces (and not those of the right), to the communists, etc., but from a position of strength.

So there is this difference in the balance of power, and there is also the difference in the organizational form. We note, moreover, that none of the organizational forms has proven its superiority over another. Whether it was the Die Linke form which was a much more traditional “party” form, than of the less traditional Podemos. This confirms that the forms are different but adapt to the balance of power, history and context. What makes the difference is the possibility or not of having the ascendancy and maintaining this ascendancy, political and ideological. As far as we are concerned, we managed to maintain this ascendancy and we will be able to confirm it if we get to the second round. The cards would really be redistributed in our favor and the alliances would have a center of gravity anchored in radicality rather than on the side of acceptance or adaptation, as was the case in Spain or Portugal.

Contretemps: On the international scene, the Common Future program advocates “a break with the condescension of the ‘Western camp'” which translates into an exit from NATO, a so-called “non-alignment” diplomacy, the stopping unequal trade agreements with African countries or supporting the development of a common global currency alternative to the dollar. This is a set of measures that would modify the geopolitical positioning of France. However, since the start of the war in Ukraine, there has been a massive media and political offensive against Melenchon on the basis of a discourse making him an enemy of “democracy” and an ally of Putin. What are the means that you give yourself to really manage to de-Westernize France and to oppose the IMF and the World Bank?

Danièle Obono: It seems important to me to highlight our references because they are not neutral, they are part of a certain story. We advance on this question with two references: non-alignment and anti-globalism. The whole ambition is to set up an anti-globalization diplomacy, it is not neutrality. And we see the UN as the space to be relegitimized, to be put back at the center of international cooperation and exchanges, unlike the G7 and the G20.

Thus, to circumvent the IMF and neoliberal authorities, we are going to develop and increase cooperation, bilateral or multilateral, in particular with French-speaking African countries. It is a question of getting out of the model of imperialist economic and military power which reproduces forms of domination, and of using the French language shared by millions of people on the planet as a means of cooperation and development. We will propose to set up a space university, a university of the sea, these are concrete cooperation frameworks.

With the war in Ukraine, we observed on the international level the non-alignment of the BRICS [2] countries which represent at least a good half of the planet. The way in which Western discourse is self-centered on the question of Ukraine is illuminating, it does not take into account other perceptions of this conflict. Of course, there is no doubt that a majority of people support the Ukrainians, but the diplomatic alignment is not so obvious. We want to play an autonomous role in this framework, and have a strategy vis-à-vis the BRICS states by refusing, for example, to consider relations with the United States, Canada and the Atlantic area as more privileged than with the rest of the world. We must decentralize France. Encourage regional economic cooperation with our European neighbours, with the Mediterranean area and with other regions of the world.

Unlike Macron who questions the diplomatic corps, we want to make diplomacy play an important role. Anti-globalization will make it possible to change the balance of power in international forums. Whether it is with China, India or even Russia, which must remain an interlocutor, we wish to play a role of mediator, to act to negotiate ceasefires and, for that, we must have an independent, audible voice , and not ethnocentric, Atlanticist and in the service of the United States. Finally, by developing the geostrategic positioning of France from its insular and altercontinental territories – known as “overseas”: Antilles, Guyana, Reunion, Polynesia… – which position us strategically in geographical areas, we can develop cooperation agreements in the Caribbean with the countries of South America and in the Indian Ocean. These are all levers to build a real anti-globalization diplomacy that would allow us to amplify and give credibility to a different policy.


[1] Comité d’hygiène, de sécurité et des conditions de travail (CHSCT)

[2] Brésil, Russie, Inde, Chine, Afrique du Sud


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