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Tag Archives: French politics

Mr Macron goes to Germany

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After being busy getting elected in May 2017, Emmanuel Macron used the traditionel French ‘Bridges of May‘ in 2018 to take a trip to Aachen in order to accept the so-called ‘Charlemagne Prize’ that the city bestows each year on a prominent individual ‘for work done in the service of European unification’. Some might argue […]

Weakened leadership, but undiminished potential

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One year after the disastrous TV debate, where does the Front National stand in spring 2018? One year ago, on 3 May 2017, I watched the final debate between the two remaining candidates for French presidency. It turned out to be the most curious ‘Surreality TV show’ ever on French television. It was almost as […]

The railwayman’s dignity shall be inviolable.

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French society under Macron’s reform steamroller. „I do think that we can build efficient politics; politics that escape ordinary cynicism and engrave in reality what must be the foremost duty of political action, I mean human dignity.” Who would want to contradict Emmanuel Macron on this point? Certainly not the venerable ‘Episcopal Conference of France’, […]

Germany need some ‘Gegenpressing’

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The abundance of metaphors that football holds in store for politics is amazing. Used by tongue-in-cheek commentators like Anand Menon – who recently compared the successive Theresa May speeches in Florence and Manchester to a European Cup away game and return leg – they can be funny and meaningful. Used by leading politicians – remember […]

France 2017: La grande coalition

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Ever since I started to talk to the French about their political system and listened to their perceptions of what was going wrong in the Fifth Republic – a little more than three decades now – I had this impression, unbacked by any robust statistical evidence, of a quite large majority at the centre of […]

France 2017: It’s the semantics, stupid!

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Emmanuel Macron’s entry on the diplomatic scene – from the NATO and G7 summits last week to the meeting with Vladimir Putin on Monday – may already be regarded as a positive and very encouraging achievement, but everybody, in France and elsewhere, agrees that the new President’s real and primordial challenge is the capacity to […]

France 2017: The end of ridicule?

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For over forty years, since Maurice Duverger coined the expression in 1974, ‘The Republican monarchy’ has no doubt been the most frequently used metaphor for the Fifth Republic. In countless books, essays and articles, the presidential system and all its corollaries –power, pomp and protocol – have been portrayed as a legacy of pre-Revolutionary, absolute […]

France 2017: Disruptive

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Emmanuel Macron had no chance of winning the presidential election. Every textbook on French politics or contemporary history will tell you so. He had no chance, and he seized it. After his first large-scale rallies, in Strasbourg in October 2016 or in Paris in December, all serious commentators indulged in gentle mockery. Partly because his […]

France 2017: The Bridges of May

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It’s the first thing the French check out when they’re back from their summer holidays and ‘La Rentrée’ – that fateful moment when normal life resumes in early September – is looming again: on what day of the week will the national holidays fall in the forthcoming school year? 1st and 11th November (All Saints […]

France 2017: That ‘pschitt!’ feeling

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‘Pschitt!’ is – at least in colloquial French – the disappointing sound of flat champagne, a deflating balloon, or a damp firecracker. It is also a good description of the feeling that many French voters will inevitably have on Sunday evening in front of their television screen. With an unprecedented degree of uncertainty, with virtually […]

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