World News: French Elections - Inertia or a Programmed Implosion

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As the French Presidential elections are on the horizon, the French left is bogged down with infighting, and keenly aware of the challenges the French Socialist Party have launched the idea of a left primary. 

The French left is burdened with apathy, inactivity and infighting and the idea of a stillborn left primary whose sole objective was to erect the candidate of the Socialist Party as the only contender for the supreme office. 

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The signatories of the Congress of Epinay, the one who had founded in 1972 the Socialist Party under the leadership of François Mitterrand, thus merging all the left-wing sensibilities of the time, had to turn in their graves as the spectacle given by the French left turned to the settling of scores in the open air.

Siphoned off by Emmanuel Macron's candidacy for the presidential election in 2017, the French left has not managed in five years spent in the opposition, more often soft than active, to rebuild an image of a political party capable of governing.

Not that the history of the Socialist Party has played a role, even if this component is not to be totally evaded, but the disunity displayed by the progressive forces during the period, disunity that continues to this day, is not foreign to this descent into hell.

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However, aware of the weakness of the left forces a few weeks before the first round of the presidential election, Anne Hidalgo, candidate invested by the Socialist Party, had recently launched the idea of a left primary.

Adage and Refusal

The idea, official, was to present to the voters the candidate capable of gathering a maximum of votes in order to access the second round of voting, based on the adage that in the first round we eliminate, in the second round we choose.

But unofficially, the idea behind Anne Hidalgo's proposal was above all to free herself from competitors such as Yannick Jadot or Jean-Luc Mélenchon by dismissing them through a primary, which, relying on the dominant position of the Socialist Party on the left, would have catapulted her only candidate to the left, forcing all sympathizers to line up behind her. In need of recognition in the polls, it thus offered itself an electoral rejuvenation, certainly artificial, but which placed it on the left as the only rival of Emmanuel Macron.

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The gamble was not particularly risky, but the refusal confirmed the thesis mentioned above, namely that the French left in full decomposition after François Hollande's five-year term found itself atomized into several competing galaxies referring to the situation that prevailed before 1971: An ideological current still strong within the country but without a single spokesman.

Social Democracy and Commonalities

Yet the election of Emmanuel Macron in 2017 could have been an opportunity for the French left.

Abandoning the field of inequalities and social injustices to its far-right rivals who seized it while these themes were generally foreign to them to the point of making them pillars of their discourses and vectors of rehabilitation in public opinion, too obsessed with its social-democrat turn poorly negotiated elsewhere and embodied in a vision too liberal by Emmanuel Macron, the Socialist Party and the French left have strayed into infighting and resentment cooked and annealed without really proposing creative and notable alternatives to the policy pursued by the tenant the Elysée.

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Therefore, under these conditions, it is difficult to imagine a union of the left in view of the spring 2017 election unless one of the candidates manages to make it to the second round. The hypothesis is far from absurd. But if there are common points between the different actors who animate the French left, these same commonalities are too rare and are weakened by often very different methods of application. So, if the hypothesis is in no way electorally absurd, it to date of the most improbable.


Bio: Olivier Longhi 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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