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Since 1988, in France, presidential campaigns have been shorter each time, and less nourished by programmatic content. And each time, we pay the price: a president elected without a programme, who cannot impose on his majority and on the country the difficult decisions that can only be taken at the beginning of a mandate. So, for the last thirty years, the country has been sinking deeper and deeper into inaction: an army less and less adapted to the battles of the future, an industry less and less competitive, an educational system more and more unequal, a health system lacking more and more means; while still being rich enough to be able to hide it from itself, and to pass on the burden of the problems to the next generations, who will have to pay back the debts of the country and the State.

The campaign, which is finally beginning, the seventh since 1988, will be even worse than the previous six: even shorter, opposing candidates who have been declared to be totally unrealistic, or abysmally unprepared, or who claim to have values contrary to democracy, or all three at once.

And more than that, this campaign will not be, like the previous ones, a moment of recklessness in a sea of insouciance. For two deadly threats, obscuring the horizon, will have become visible and will occupy people’s minds much more than the campaign itself; whereas they should, for years, have guided the actions of leaders and the programmes of candidates: the threat of a nuclear apocalypse and the threat of a climate apocalypse.

The first, which has been weighing on humanity for almost eighty years and which has been practically forgotten, is now being remembered with the war in Ukraine: if it is badly managed, it could lead to the unleashing of a nuclear apocalypse by a cornered dictator who, to compensate for a failure in Ukraine, could decide to send some of the six thousand nuclear missiles he has at his disposal to raze France and Germany to the ground, unless he can get them neutralised. This hypothesis is no longer absurd. It should remind us that it has been in our interest for a very long time in Europe to unite our forces, to no longer rely on an American ally that is less and less credible; and that the project of a common European defence should structure our foreign policy in all its dimensions. This would lead to an industrial policy (since a European defence industry would have to be built), a research policy, and joint projects in countless other areas.

The second threat, which has only recently been perceived, although it has also been there for a long time, is that of a climatic apocalypse; the new IPCC report, published this week and passed unnoticed, reminds us of the obvious and the urgent: it is indeed a real climatic apocalypse that is before us. It would not take place in fifteen minutes, like the other one, but it would be just as irreversibly deadly for the human race. Here again, the solution exists. It should also structure our entire industrial policy, our entire conception of cities, rural areas and mobility. It should lead us to use less energy, and, by a strange irony, use the source of one of the two apocalypses to prevent the other: nuclear energy is a solution, at least transitory, to avoid the climate apocalypse. It should be noted that the outgoing president, who is not yet an official candidate and whose programme is still unknown, is, for the moment, the only one to propose clear answers to these challenges.

These two projects would suffice to structure a credible presidential project; they will require an enormous amount of resources that cannot be used for anything else; they will therefore reduce the resources that could be used for the most common expenses, and they will require, in order to be socially tolerable, an even greater attention to injustices.

Above all, they both presuppose a desire to save the essentials, to fight without running away, to preserve the future of our children, as strong as that shown every day by the Ukrainians.

Let us hope that the campaign that is beginning, however short, will allow the country to realise this: do we really want our continent to be livable for our grandchildren? That is the only question that matters today.