It is fashionable today to say that, whatever we do, nothing will happen in France for the rest of the current president’s term, and that the election of Marine Le Pen is assured. We can see people preparing for this, explaining that after all it’s not so serious and that we should give her a chance.
Nothing could be further from the truth. And nothing would be worse than to sum up the coming years as the wait for the Olympic Games, followed by the campaign for the presidential elections. Nothing would be worse than to live these years as resigned spectators of a dying world. France is not condemned to fall into the camp of the ultra-reactionary regimes of Hungary, Poland, or even Italy. It is not condemned to cease being a great universalist power.
Moreover, if we put all this into the global geopolitical context, it is easy to see that it is in the interest of all the great powers of the world to weaken Europe, and in particular France: Russia needs a defeatist and collaborationist France, which the Front National can offer it on a plate. The United States, ready to risk the lives of Europeans in war, but not their own, needed a France that was submissive to its decisions, as Germany, Poland, Great Britain and so many others already were. China needs to destroy our industries so that our citizens, now all poor, have no choice but to buy their cheap products.
All this is happening. And if we do nothing for four years, it will happen. It will be the end of our identity. Out of resignation.
All this is not inevitable.
Firstly, because the current president and his parliamentary supporters have more than four years to act; and if they are well managed, by the government and the democratic opposition, a good path can be found.
The government still has time to carry out the great educational reform that is needed to reduce the extraordinary inequality between social classes; it has time to give the means to the hospital to modernise; to revive the town’s medicine, to reinforce the public services, at least in the 535 sub-prefectures that form the civic framework of this country. He has four years left to revive industry, which is currently threatened with extinction under the blows of Chinese dumping, ill-prepared technological changes, and the training of an insufficient number of engineers, on whom everything depends. He has four years left to modernise the institutions, making them more readable and better adapted to taking difficult decisions. It has four years left to seriously launch an energy policy based on renewable energies, green hydrogen, and nuclear energy; to finally deal seriously with the reuse of waste water; to finally accept to let those foreigners who have not yet obtained their regularisation, who have shown their talents and strength of character by coming to our country, work legally; to strengthen our army, which is proving to be very degraded at the moment of helping our Ukrainian neighbours… And so many other subjects. All this presupposes that the government does not make the same mistakes over and over again that have led to the current situation: it will have to prepare the reforms carefully, know their strong and weak points, and pay attention to the weakest ones, before submitting them to public opinion and debating them at length, with lucidity and empathy.
As for the democratic oppositions, that is to say above all the left, since this five-year term is now clearly right-wing, it is up to them to work hard to establish a realistic doctrine, to provide themselves with a serious and convincing programme, compatible with our role in a Europe that has yet to be built, which would attract, when the time comes, those who will not find their place in the right-wing party that the successor to the current President will embody. It is also up to these oppositions to clearly state which laws, decrees and decisions taken by the current majority they will propose to repeal when the time comes: will they, for example, go back on retirement at 64? It will not be enough to say so; we still need to know how we will finance the deficits that are looming and what we will do to finally have a fairer system, without the scandalous privileges of the special schemes or the undue burdens on long careers.
No one will get away with this without a lot of courage, competence and empathy. These are not the virtues of which the political class as a whole is currently making the best use.
Painting: Pieter Brueghel the Elder (1525/30-1569), Peasant Dance, 1567, Kunsthistorisches Museum.