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On the eve of a major election, nothing is more important than to avoid being influenced by moodiness or last-minute incidents. What matters most is not whether a candidate is likeable or arrogant, but whether he or she is competent. What should determine a vote is not the little bombs that opponents can explode under a candidate’s feet, but his or her ability to manage a large country in what will be a very difficult period.

In many countries, the most recent elections have been decided more by last-minute incidents than by substantive choices. Let’s try to avoid it this time in France.

The situation of the planet is extremely serious.  It is even catastrophic ecologically and very dangerous militarily. France’s situation is no less serious. And the next president will have to make major choices, which will commit the country for a long time to ecology, social issues, the economy, industry, education, health, security and European construction. Whoever you choose will have a major influence on the fate of your children and grandchildren.

Before deciding, it is important to remember a few principles:

1 . Firstly, it is essential to vote. France is one of the few democracies in the world and no one is entitled to complain about the actions of a government if it has allowed others to decide for it. So we must vote. In both rounds. And in the legislative elections that will follow.

2. The choice of the President of the Republic is the choice of the one who will be in charge of defence, Europe and foreign policy. He will also have to carry an ecological, democratic and social model. The candidates in the running offer radically different programmes in this respect. Read them. Look at the images of their declarations on Climate. On Europe. On Russia. On the epidemic.

3. Whatever happens, the France of tomorrow cannot be the France of the past decades. It will be great in its projects. Not by its nostalgia. Do not vote by looking in the rear-view mirror. France is still a great country. It still has a great future ahead of it.

4. In the first round, vote for the person who is closest to your deepest aspirations. On ecological issues, the most important ones (do you want someone who wants or doesn’t want wind turbines? who wants or doesn’t want nuclear power?); on military issues (do you want an ally of the Kremlin or not? a Trump nostalgic or not?); on alliances (do you want France to remain close to its NATO allies? Should it build a European defence? Or withdraw from any alliance? ) On the issues of Europe (do you want an opponent of the euro or not?). On issues of national identity (do you want France to close itself off to all the talent coming from elsewhere?). On industry (do you want a sovereign or vassal France?)

5. The essential qualities for this position are: competence. Calmness. Independence of mind. Ethics. The ability to change one’s mind by listening to others. English has also become absolutely essential, if only to read very important documents, without depending on translation.

6. Selecting a candidate is a relative choice, not an absolute one; and no candidate could possibly have all the qualities you could wish for.

7. Don’t be swayed by the natural tendency of all of us to dislike all those who exercise power of any kind and who we inherently like to label as arrogant (this is true of a president as well as of any office manager). Nor by the advice of all those who seek to preserve their rents by weakening the state. Don’t listen to those who have an interest in the worst possible situation in order to make a few profits; for example, certain media who would have a larger audience if one of the extreme candidates entered the Elysée; opponents of democracy; and even certain intellectuals who are in favour of democracy but who would like to see themselves in the posture of a resistance fighter in the face of a dark regime, in order to prepare the next coup. We know too well the tragic consequences of such postures, especially for those who advocate them.

8. Don’t think that you are balancing your vote in the presidential election with your vote in the legislative elections that follow. Whoever is elected President of the Republic will have the necessary parliamentary majority to carry out his policy.

The future of our country is therefore at stake as of Sunday. And for my part, I think that nothing would be worse than what would open the way to the election of Marine Le Pen. It would be a disaster not only for us, but also for Europe, whose new power would halt progress; for the world, whose climate action would be further slowed down. And also for human rights, for Africa, and for so many other dimensions. Our country, our children and grandchildren, deserve much better than this.