On the evening of April 23 rd , the traditional mainstream parties of the 5 th French Republic were swept away and the voters are now facing a choice between two 'anti-system candidates. Since then, the eyes of our European partners and the entire world have been upon France, with its 47 million voters and its army of abstainers.
This second turn, in which the National Front might win an all-time record of votes, is apparently due, at least partially, the European policies and the fact that a – too – vast majority of the French people feels left out. It is true that Europe did not worry enough about the losers of globalization, about social rights, about the migratory crisis, about the environmental protection. The Europe of 2017 is far from being perfect.
At the same time, as a bad government does not imply the dissolution of a state, insufficient policies do not justify to give up on the slow and patient work of cooperation between nations that were yesterday's sworn enemies. The promise of peace is not broken, not yet, but one should not forget that the biggest threat is the discontent of angry citizens and its use by political illusionists.
On May 7 th , one of the choices offered to the French voter is to set an end to the political construction of Europe. Would the losers then become the winners? Nothing could be less certain.
In this run-up to the second turn, the fear of those attached to the European construction is fueled by the ambivalence of part of the voters and some of their representatives. A lot of them seem to embrace an idea of a raging France, stubbornly decided to act on its own and deaf to the echoes of the world, a country that would be ignorant of European solidarity and hostile to any compromise.
Today, the pressures and constraints that our national leaders have to face are knowingly stronger than when the country was a colonial and industrial power… But even North Korea cannot shut itself off from the world. Because climate change, migrations, epidemies, mafias, terrorism and all exchanges are by their very nature transnational. They do not respect borders more than a radioactive cloud coming from Chernobyl.
Globalization can and must be regulated. And this is only possible with those who understand its machinery, but also with the ones who critic it, even violently.
Naturally, it is easier to merely declare war on globalization and to act as if it did not exist.
On May 7 th , there will be a choice for France: whether the country believes in the need to be protected from the world by invisible Maginot lines and feels torn apart between the idea of its allegedly passed greatness and its present weaknesses, and whether the France of the Revolution, of democracy, innovation, progress and Enlightenment will stand as a strong Republic, confident in its strength and its ideals to be presented to the world.
In the turmoil of resentment towards the ones going to abstain and the ones going to cast a blank vote, it would be too dangerous to lose sight of the issues at stake. More than ever, May 7 th will bring closure to a fierce battle between two visions of the future, two ideas of France.
Two Frances for two futures: on May 7 th, it is our place in the world that will be decided. Should we accept a sort of identity-related nationalism, blended with some hypocritical social rhetoric? Or should we resist the worst temptations and further strengthen our European common home?
Being by now an uncertain sexagenarian, the European ideal is far from its youthful enthusiasm.
Nonetheless, we are all put in jeopardy by climate change, social dumping, tax competition, protectionism, narrow nationalism or the fact that our fundamental values are challenged.
Therefore, it would be wise to try harder to offer solutions, instead of shutting ourselves away in our national borders.
The eyes of the world are upon us, for on May 7 th what will be defined is the fate of a certain idea of France and a certain idea of Europe; both intertwined. The most difficult is to do it in a harmonious way: Europe is the future of France, not for France to lose itself in it, but rather to gain the influence that would default if the country were to isolate itself from those who share its ideals. To stay in Europe, not for us to be dissolved in it, but to be able to find and to be found by our allies. To chose to carefully pull the right thread instead of cutting the knot -and ourselves from the world.
On May 7 th , that is why we should vote…. With full knowledge of the facts.