World News: The Parched Landscape of French Politics

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The impoverishment of the French political landscape could only lead to the emergence of an ideological opposition between the supporters of a liberalism tinged with social democracy and those of a demanding progressivism taken advantage of by everyone.


Whatever the result of the upcoming general elections, one observation is already clear: the French political landscape that was unstructured in the aftermath of Emmanuel Macron's first election is now clearly fractured, or about to be, in two poles.


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The first articulated around the person of the re-elected president, between assumed liberalism and social democracy with variable geometry; the second around Jean-Luc Mélenchon and the France Insoumise, driven by the desire for reforms and social redesigns imagined in order to reduce the inequalities created over the years.

Relevant or not, these two blocs, which evade the historical parties, including the National Rally which seems to have died out on the evening of 24 April, are opening up the national political scene with the hope of eventually dominating the National Assembly. However, without dwelling on everyone's programs, their mere presence tends to prove how much over the years the landscape and political proposals have weakened and impoverished.

Convinced, both of them, to embody the deep desires and wishes of the French, which is partly true, these two blocs tend above all to confront each other, certainly from an ideological point of view, but above all in a web of opposition which feeds on the hatred of the political opponent.

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Progressivism and Excessive Ego

The first victim of this tactic is the political and ideological content of the programmes of the outgoing presidential majority and the first adversary, in this case the New Popular Ecological and Social Union (NUPES). Articulated around demands or proposals that tend, for one, to ensure a form of political continuity begun in 2017, and for the other to reshuffle the cards of the historical left by convening an active and exclusive progressivism, Presidential Majority and Nupes are in reality only the armed arms of two men that everything opposes, Emmanuel Macron and Jean-Luc Mélenchon.

The first re-elected in circumstances that invite humility, the second who openly aspires to put on the clothes of Prime Minister, pose as the cornerstone of a political universe that they occupy with all their person. Thus, whatever the results of the election, the majority that emerges in the Assembly will certainly serve a policy but also a man with a somewhat disproportionate ego when the general situation of the country as well as that prevailing at the international level push for restraint and weighting.

This duel at a distance, fierce and fierce, if it is in no way unprecedented in the history of French politics, has perhaps never been so divisive as the two protagonists embody in their turn everything that both can hate in each of them. This bipolarization, which lends itself to smiling or irritating in the face of the excesses committed by and from other side, is in no way reassuring because it highlights, as indicated above, the emptiness and poverty, at best, of the current political organizations, unable to propose a credible alternative.

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Catch-all and Shades

Emptied of all substance, the political environment that had survived as best it could between 2017 and 2022, is now dried up to give way to a binary, almost Manichean opposition, which takes on the appearance of an electoral catch-all according to his personal sensitivities.

To Emmanuel Macron the social democrats, comfortable with economic liberalism and happy globalization; to Jean-Luc Mélenchon, the progressives disappointed with the traditional left, in need of major social reforms. By reviving a form of socialism imbued with accents that Jean Jaurès, Jules Guesde or Auguste Blanqui would not have denied, Jean-Luc Mélenchon poses as a populous and charismatic tribune in the face of a cold and mechanical intellectual.

The opposition, easy to integrate for many voters exhausted by the nuances that have long been   seen as differences erected as fractures between the parties of yesteryear, finally takes on beneficial effects for both actors of the moment. Faced with a cultural and political impoverishment of the electorate, it has become easier to convince than to seduce and this with flagship measures or miraculous promises.

This is the aspect of the contemporary political landscape of France that recalls so much the one that prevailed in the ancient, and yet so instructive, Roman Republic, where the Optimates, party of aristocrats and patriciate opposed the Populares, party of the people, each having its champion. For the first Pompey, for the second Caesar, both sacrificed on the altar of their ambition.

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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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