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MACRON: Last chance of French fifth republic

Macron, the new French president.
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NORMAN, Okla. – It is without surprise that Emanuel Macron, centrist and pro-Europe won the French presidential election with 66.1 percent of the votes on Sunday. Over 20.7 million people voted for Macron, nearly twice than his unfortunate opponent Marine Le Pen, far-right and anti-Europe (10.6 million for 33.9 percent of the votes).

This has been qualified by the French press as “hors normes” (exceptional) due to several factors. First, at 39 years old, Macron became the youngest president that French people have elected. It was also the first time that neither of the two main parties from the left and right were present at the run-off.

But with only 74.56 percent of participation (25.44 percent of abstention) this run-off also had the worst turn out of a French presidential election since 1969.

In addition, null vote and blank ballot has never been higher with almost 12 percent of the total votes, two times more than the previous presidential election. If we count the blank ballot and null vote in the total of the results, the real score of Macron’s has fallen to 43.63 percent and Le Pen to 22.38 percent.

Finally, the last important point of this French presidential election is the level and regularity of the use of verbal violence and disinformation by the candidates such as Le Pen – a violence also shown by demonstrators themselves during the usual May-Day in France.

All these points cited above are mostly due to a growing frustration of the French people toward politics. According to a poll realized by Cevipof in December of last year, 89 percent of the French people think that politicians are not listening to their preoccupation, 82 percent think that politicians never keep their word, and 75 percent think politicians are corrupted.

“The politicians are perceived as having no antipathy, corrupted, talking in abstract manners, listening only to the riches and powerful, inspire no respect (or a little) and never keep their promises,” said Bruno Cautrès, a researcher at the Centre national de la recherche scientifique, for a local French newspaper.

The mandate of the current French president Francois Hollande is the perfect example why French people are tired of being ignored and disrespected by politicians. Scandal with his private affair with another woman (Julie Gayet), unable to stop the rise of unemployment with an increase of more than 500,000 unemployed since 2012, scandal of his budget minister hiding a bank account in Switzerland and Singapore with the Cahuzac affair in 2013 and forcing unpopular law on employment without the vote of the parliament in 2016.

All these events has led Hollande to an approval rating of only 12 percent six months before the next presidential election forcing him to not seek reelection this year.

The increase in unemployment since the 70’s, delocalization out of France, exacerbation of the mundialization, migrations flows, climate change and population ageing are all factors that French politicians have not been able to manage and anticipate in time, leading the country close to implosion.

As Macron is not a usual politician and has never held an elected office before (such as U.S. President Donald Trump), one could think it may be better than the previous presidents. But his close tie with banks and corporations (even if for a president it is good to know the complexity of the financial system) has been pointed out by a large majority of the people.

Today the French political system is similar to what France had before the Revolution in 1789, before this time the noble families were fighting for the crone, today it is the political families who are fighting for the president and parliament seats.

France has a political system that is not at the measure of the huge potential of this country. The fifth republic is obviously not democratic enough, and an increase of participation and representation from the local level should be encouraged. But are the actual political elites ready to share their monopoly? This is another story.

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Olivier Rey

Olivier has traveled in 20 countries on six continents before landing in Norman. Native French...

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Red Dirt Report was launched July 4, 2007 as an independent news website covering all manner of news, culture, entertainment and lifestyle stories that affect and interest Oklahoma readers and readers outside of our state. Our mission is to educate, promote civic engagement and discourse on public policy, government and politics. Our experienced journalists provided balanced in-depth coverage of news stories that affect Oklahomans. Our opinion/editorial stories come from a wide range of political view points. We carry out our mission by reporting, writing, and posting news and information. read more

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