United fronts, elections and alliances

1. We drafted our basic position concerning united fronts in our Principles: it is necessary for the building of revolutionary organisations to break workers „from reformist party bureaucracies and reformism in general". „Revolutionaries apply the tactic of the united front to achieve this. This tactic seeks to bring reformist organisations, who are pressurized by their rank and file, into a collective fight for certain immediate working class interests.

The goal is to persuade the members and followers of these organisations of the betrayal and/or inconsequence of their leadership. Such united fronts can have different forms: alliances at demonstrations or strikes; critical support of reformist parties at bourgeois elections; entry of revolutionaries into reformist parties (entrism). Crucial for all these forms is, that the political independence of revolutionary forces remains intact and this tactic of revolutionary organisation-building is not mixed with political adaptation to reformism. It is of utmost importance notably concerning entrism, that a) there are in fact fault lines among parts of the party´s rank and file, where a revolutionary leverage can be applied; and b) the attitude among parts of the party´s rank and file allows to openly come forward with revolutionary positions. A real succeeding of united fronts presupposes a certain strength of the revolutionary organisation, that can usually also secure the freedom of revolutionary propaganda.”

2. Our basic position concerning parliamentarism is clear as well: we consider it to be a betrayal of the working class, through which the ideology of democracy and peoples sovereignty in capitalism is propagated. The voting systems are very often constructed in favour of the bourgeoisie (f.e. through geographical division of seats, percent clauses, majority voting system, bicameral systems, unequal access to the media, exclusion of migrant labourers etc.). Above all the important decisions are made in the interwoven areas of big capital and state apparatus, that afterwards are spread by the predominant propaganda apparatus of the ruling class. Marxists are ultimately for the smashing of bourgeois parliaments as part of the breaking of the bourgeois state in general and its replacement by council democracy. Until then we are for the exposure of its reactionary character as „talking shops” to veil the operations of the bourgeois state. As long as relevant parts of the proletariat have illusions in parliamentary democracy, communists cannot ignore bourgeois elections, but have to try to use the raised political attention among the population for spreading their own propaganda.

3. Basically a revolutionary organisation will seek to run for elections itself, especially when it is in the stage of a party. In doing so the goal is not mainly to get parliamentary seats (or communal seats etc.), that can be used as propaganda possibility for class war, but organisation building. Own candidatures are therefore legitimate, even if it seems not realistic to win seats for a bourgeois parliamentary structure. In any case it must be assured that a revolutionary party candidature does not overburden (and so perish) the strength of the organisation and the project does not degenerate to a contra-productive ridiculousness because of the size of the organisation.

4. If a revolutionary organisation is too weak to run for elections itself, it is possible – in accordance with the principles of the united front – to make a critical voting call for reformist labour parties (never for petty bourgeois leftliberal Green Parties!). The use of this tactic must always rest on a concrete analysis of the situation and should not degenerate to a schematic automatism. First of all it is essential to clarify the question, if there are illusions in the reformist party among relevant parts of the working class at all, that could then be disappointed afterwards. Crucial is also the estimation what a victory or defeat of the reformist party at the ballot would mean in a certain societal situation. Important is as well, if the revolutionary organisation is capable to approach parts of the reformist party´s rank and file with this tactic at all.

5. Where a minority of politically progressive workers and activists and especially those who can be reached by revolutionary organisations, adhere to a seemingly more leftist reformist party (that does not differ in principle from the dominant reformist party), it can be useful to critically support this party at the ballot box (f.e. PRC in Italy). A supportive call for a minoritarian „more leftist" reformism is also possible, where such a candidature represents more militant political layers and the success of this party is perceived as a clear left turn (f.e. PDS, now LINKE, in Germany). Finally the critical voting support is, under special conditions, possible for more then one bourgeois labour party.

6. In different social struggles it can make sense for revolutionary organisations to form a block, to make systematic agreements, act and be present collectively with other groups of the radical left, especially those with Trotskyist self-conception, to rather be able to represent a real factor against reformist forces. A necessary precondition for this tactic is a principally mobilising and classwarist perspective for the particular conflict and a similar outlook for the movement. Precondition is as well the freedom of propaganda in the block and the maintenance of the own political and organisational profile. Such blocks are possible on election level, if revolutionary organisations can thereby gain some societal weight together with other subjective revolutionaries and be perceived in the political conflicts.


This text was written by Arbeitsgruppe Marxismus (AGM), one of the forerunners of RSO, in 2001 and was adopted as part of the political fundament of RSO in May 2007. Translation: Kaneshka Shokran (RSO Vienna).