Everything you need to know about the French election

This article was published on The Huffington Post

One of my favourite French words is bouleversement. It means disruption or upheaval. Zidane’s head-butt in the 2006 World Cup final represented bouleversement for the French team. When Parisian bakers were allowed to go on holiday whenever they wanted for the first time in 2015, there was (perhaps) bouleversement as locals found it harder to buy baguettes. Determined to conserve their culture, their language and their 35-hour week, the French see bouleversements everywhere.

On Sunday 23rd April French voters go to the polls for the first-round of the presidential election. There are eleven candidates facing the voters, and – providing no-one reaches the 50 percent threshold – the top two will go through to the second-round a fortnight later.

The current polling is available here.

It has certainly been a campaign of bouleversements. If you have not been following it so far, here is a guide to the main candidates. Continue reading Everything you need to know about the French election

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Présidente Marine?

Front National 2010-05-01 n03

This article was published on Left Foot Forward

“Fascism arrives as your friend,” suggested the children’s author Michael Rosen. “It will restore your honour, make you feel proud, protect your house, give you a job, clean up the neighbourhood, remind you of how great you once were, clear out the venal and the corrupt, remove anything you feel is unlike you…”

All this sounds attractive for the French right now, mired in a political and economic crisis. The Front National sits near the top of the polls, and the prospect of an extreme-right president in France is seriously being discussed. A recent edition of L’Express, was titled “President in 2017? Why the worst is possible”, over a picture of a stern Marine Le Pen. The governing Socialist Party is deeply unpopular and the opposition right-wing UMP divided. But the reason for the success of the FN goes deeper than the current mainstream political malaise. Continue reading Présidente Marine?

La France en crise

François Hollande (Journées de Nantes 2012)

This article appeared on Left Foot Forward

Alexis de Toqueville wrote of France “Has there ever been any nation on earth which was so full of contrasts, and so extreme in all of its acts, more dominated by emotions, and less by principles; always doing better or worse than we expect, sometimes below the common level of humanity, sometimes much above it”. Continue reading La France en crise