World News: French Presidential Primaries Process Begins

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Presented since their introduction into political life as an element of revitalization of the debate, the Primaries seem to be running out of steam to the point of losing their original interest. Yet these are almost essential.

A few months before the first round of the presidential election and after the summer schools of the various political parties are held in dispersed order, the ball of the Primaries now opens. The exercise, which mixes democratic requirements and the present of the multiple sensitivities that can run through this or that party, is always perilous for those who lend themselves to it.

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Firstly, because only one candidate is chosen by the militants and sympathizers but above all, as a direct consequence, because it is not always the favorite of the polls who emerges winner of the event. Alain Juppé made the bitter experience in 2016 for the benefit of François Fill on as Manuel Valls, ousted in favor of Benoît Hamon, and this the same year.

In fact, the Primaries, imported from the United States in their form, have the virtue of drawing a more or less precise picture of the ideological contours, the main orientations, or the essential ideas for the future of the country that the future campaign will take.

Challenges and Reflection

But in this electoral year when the French are called to vote for the President of the Republic, the culmination of the political life of the Fifth Republic, the subjects of debate, let us say those who have long framed the previous campaigns, namely, employment, growth, public debt, and security are no longer really at the center of the stakes.

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The central question that now animates the political parties is how to manage the country after the pandemic episode and the consequences induced. At the same time, many parties, apart from its own of course, are seeking to articulate a program likely to upset the balance sheet of the tenant of the Elysée by forgetting that the Primaries are supposed to offer successful programs, the quintessence of the reflections carried out by the formations wishing to assume the supreme office.

The ecologists, who were the first to embark on the exercise of the primary, articulate their discourse around the necessary ecological transition, evidence that borders on banality, but will the said necessity be enough to swing the electorate in its favor? The Republicans, still embarrassed by this solution offered by the primary because they have long been lulled by the natural cult of the leader, must also deal with a former baron, now dissident, Xavier Bertrand. ( )

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And to date, no real program has emerged except declarations of intentions that are more anti-Macronnism than fundamental political reflection. A similar observation for the Socialist Party, too, caught between the unleashed passion of Jean-Luc Mélenchon and the phlegm of Arnaud Montebourg, newly declared to succeed Emmanuel Macron.

Vivacity and Management

Thus, the party born in Epinay in 1971, is looking for an orientation, in between French social democracy, and defense of social gains, because today denouncing social inequalities alone is no longer enough. As for the extreme right, where the very idea of primary is proving to be stinging, the usual, even tired themes specific to its DNA will still serve as discourse.

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Thus, past the primary virtue of this democratic exercise, which also attests in its own way to the liveliness of the political debate, it is not illegitimate to question its purpose if it is not to ensure more legibility between the candidates and allow them to have a real electoral base while strengthening their image in public opinion.

But apart from that, a fortiori this year, dominated by the need for the executive to manage, the pandemic in all its aspects, whether health, economic and social, the primaries are almost, without offending them, a secondary nature, as the urgency seems to lie elsewhere. Long acclaimed, the latter seem to have gone out of fashion because they are considered too heavy, too tedious, useless, or even culturally incompatible with regard to French political history. However, it is clear that these are necessary.



Bio: Olivier Longhi an opinion columnist for, has extensive experience in European history. A seasoned journalist with fifteen years of experience, he is currently professor of history and geography in the Toulouse region of France. He has held a variety of publishing positions, including Head of Agency and Chief of Publishing. A journalist, recognized blogger, editor, and editorial project manager, he has trained and managed editorial teams, worked as a journalist for various local radio stations, a press and publishing consultant, and a communications consultant.

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