A few more days and we will know who is the next French president.
I have to confess, I am getting some election fatigue. The past year has been rich in political campaigns and especially in election disappointments. Bar the fact Sadiq Kahn was elected mayor of London (which is something that makes me happy and proud of Londoners at so many levels it deserves its own post!), all the other elections which have impacted me have left me stunned, deeply worried, not to say plain angry!
I won’t come back on the huge slap in the face, and in the European dream, Brexit is, neither will waste any of my energy talking about that guy in the White House, nor the upcoming British elections (Theresa May is certainly not on my Christmas cards list, to give you an idea of what I am rooting for).
I will just talk about the French presidential elections – at least this time I can cast a vote! – which will be coming to a dramatic end on Sunday night (European time).
I have never been so worried about what is in store for us as a country. Unlike 15 years ago, when it felt that so many of us were coming together to scream a deafening NO in the face of Mr Le Pen, it now feels we have accepted a far right party can be that close to lead us. As if we had forgotten all the lessons history taught us, all the horrific things its founding leader has said and all the crimes its supporters have committed.
On Sunday, I will vote for Emmanuel Macron, although he was not my choice in the first round. I gave my first vote to Benoit Hamon, the candidate of the socialist party, even if I knew it was highly unlikely he would go through given the results of the polls. I decided to vote for the project I felt would be the most able to bring the positive change that was needed to help solve the problems France has been facing. I believe Mr Hamon’s project had the ambition to transform our society, in a more dramatic, positive and sustainable way, in a way that was inclusive and not excluding certain groups of people or communities.
Emmanuel Macron has a position and a vision that are too liberal for me. But at least, I trust he is a strong European supporter and will not put our freedom at risk nor will bring more discrimination, hate and violence.
I will vote for him, not only because we need to bar the way to the FN, but also because I believe some of his actions may be good for France, even if I think it won’t be enough to get rid of the populist threat. Threat that is so close to become a horrifying reality if too many of my fellow citizens decides to not vote on Sunday.
During the campaign, I had run in my head the different scenario that could happen and discussed them at length with people around me. Sadly, all the polls had been warning us Le Pen would go through the first round so it was really a question of who would face her. The scenario I really feared was a face-to-face Fillon-Le Pen as, for me, Mr Fillon was just terrible news, maybe not as terrible as Mrs Le Pen but definitely not a dawn of hope for France. His duplicity, his ludicrous love of money and his arrogance, that were clearly visible during the campaign, made this possibility even more distasteful for me. But, if he had been the one facing Le Pen for the second round, I think that despite all that I said before, I would be getting ready to give him my vote. With anger, disdain and ready to hold him accountable and fight him through other elections, but he would get my vote to keep Mrs Le Pen out of the way.
I hope I will not get disappointed on Sunday night, but one thing that is sure, is that even if Mr Macron gets elected with a strong majority, we should not lose sight of the fact there are a lot of people out there, in France but also across a lot of countries, who are making the choice of a populist, nationalist vote. It does not mean that they are all stupid, racist, bigoted – it means that our model of society is not working anymore because too many are left behind. The gap between the many poors and few wealthy people keeps widening. Politicians put political games and contests ahead of truth and long-term action plans. Issues are avoided, hidden in a cloud of PR tactics or blamed on a group that it is easy to vilify and who will struggle to fight back. But issues are not solved and get worse as time goes by. At the same time, the pivate sector gets very entwined with the public one and companies keep playing the “profit at all cost” game, pressuring employees to produce more, for the sake of a handful of super wealthy, while normal people do not see any improvement to their living standard.
This is not sustainable. And some people feel that the only way left to them to to say “enough is enough” , sadly, is to vote for a protest party, like the one Mrs Le Pen represents. And people like Mrs Le Pen are just too happy to make the most of the despair and misery that they see around… without any willingness – nor any valid plan – to sort it out!
So I hope this election will be the final wake up call for a lot of us, for the people in power (politicians and CEOs) to realise things need to change. It is not about imposing more austerity or a faster pace, it is not about consumers spending more and saving less, it is not leaving the private sector decide at every level, it is about rethinking how our entire society and our economy work, face the problems and come up with creative solutions that are sustainable, for the people and for the planet. Not just for the super wealthy.
If we carry on ignoring this, it may be that in 5 years from now, we will face a situation even worse than the one we are facing today.
Oh – and just for the pleasure and as a reminder that the French youth used to have a voice against the FN…. LA JEUNESSE EMMERDE LE FRONT NATIONAL!!!