Can This 39 Year Old Idealist Save France From A Far Right Future?

Update: 2/6/2017

By Nate Nkumbu

Election Season is upon us here in the United States but across the Atlantic, France is also getting ready for a very important election that could have global implications.

With a whole range of issues that are in the voter’s mind from national security to the economy, this election season will prove to be one that could shape France’s future at home and abroad.

After a wave of terrorist attacks that have plagued the country in recent years and a meddling economy that has failed to take off, many in France are willing to turn to the far right of the political spectrum for salvation and safety.

But before going into too much detail, let’s do a little overview of how the French political system actually works.

The country is led by a President, who is elected every five years.

France uses a two round system to elect its president so the top two finishers in the first round of voting then face off in a run off election two weeks later.

The next election is scheduled to be held on April 23, 2017 with the second round scheduled for May 7.

Many experts believe that incumbent Socialist President Francois Hollande could be in real trouble if he does decide to run for reelection.

“The Socialist party, which Hollande is member of doesn’t have much love for him like the rest of the France because he’s failed on number of things, mostly the economy as France is still struggling,” William R. Keylor, a Professor at Boston University who specializes in International Relations and is expert on US and French politics said to RISE NEWS.

According to Keylor, Hollande’s mismanagement of the economy has seen his approval rating drop to as low as 10%.

The professor added that because of Hollande’s unpopularity, many of the political parties in France see an opportunity to challenge his Presidency.

One of those parties is led by a rising star in French politics by the Name of Emmanuel Macron, the 38-year-old who Hollande had as his finance minister has become the rising star of French intellectuals who wish for a more moderate future.

His brand of politics, and his campaign (which is called “En Marche!”, or On Our Way) are marked with a form of optimism not unlike Canadian Prime minister Justin Trudeau.

But Macron is not the only challenger in the election.

The Republicans (the center-right political party) will hold a primary in the fall that is being hotly contested by Former President Nicolas Sarkozy and former Prime Minister Alain Juppé.

There is also a far right party that is actually leading current opinion polls in the election- the National Front, led by Marine Le Pen, a member of the European Parliament.

Le Pen’s father Jean-Marie Le Pen is a rabid racist who founded the National Front as a reactionary force meant to inform more traditional ideas of how French society should be run.

Keylor suggest that on the international scene, Sarkozy, Hollande, and Macron would continue the international presences that France has with NATO and the European Union, but under Le Pen, France’s international presences would change drastically.

 Photo Credit: Ecole polytechnique Université Paris-Saclay/ Flickr (CC by 2.0)

A man on the move. Macron (second from right) walks with a group of other government ministers at a event at a French college in late 2015. Photo Credit: Ecole polytechnique Université Paris-Saclay/ Flickr (CC by 2.0)

“Under both the Socialist and Republicans, France would continue their obligations to the Nato and the EU being charter members and one the more influential nations but under Le Pen, you would see France renege on the obligation” Keylor said.“Le Pen’s policy, much like Trump’s in America is all about making France first. Under her, you would see France retreat inwards”

With the Socialists discredited under Hollande’s poor economic management and weakness in dealing with terrorist threats, there is a real chance that France will have to choose from the right and the far right in the Presidential run-off election.

Why does that matter?

Well just look at the recent “burkini” controversy.

The nation has been gripped in debate over whether women should be allowed to wear a form of the Islamic covering known as a “burqa” on the beach. The issue came to a head when one beach community banned the outfit and forced women to remove it while on the beach.

The controversy has angered human rights campaigners and progressives the world over, but it is not clear-cut in France.

Emmanuel Macron (third from left) at a consumer tech conference in 2014. Photo Credit OFFICIAL LEWEB PHOTOS/ Flickr (CC By 2.0)

Emmanuel Macron (third from left) at a consumer tech conference in 2014. Photo Credit OFFICIAL LEWEB PHOTOS/ Flickr (CC By 2.0)

Le Pen and Sarkozy support making the ban a national one while Juppé and Macron want to relax the ban.

Macron, who speaks English and is married to his former high school teacher who is over 20 years his senior also wants to reform the French economy and is willing to go after some of its sacred cows, like the 35 hour workweek.

He is not a Socialist and has angered many labor unions due to his more reform minded view of the world, but he may be France’s only hope to prevent the country from plunging into a far right reality.

A 38 year old may be the man France needs in this time of great need.

RISE NEWS is a grassroots journalism news organization that is working to change the way young people become informed and engaged in the world. You can write for us.

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France Wants to Ban Public Wi-Fi Following Paris Terror Attacks

French law enforcement authorities are reportedly proposing to ban the use of free Wi-Fi and limit access to the unregulated internet browser, Tor, following the deadly Paris attacks on November 13. Laid out in a leaked document by the Interior Ministry, by French newspaper Le Monde , the proposals could be enacted as early as January… Read More

Another Consequence Of Terror: The Rise Of The Extreme Right Wing In France

France’s far-right National Front (FN) on Sunday gained a record 27.7 percent of the vote in the first round of regional elections, a victory that may have been helped by the November 13 Paris attacks. Sunday’s result, just three weeks after the terrible attacks in Paris that cost 130 lives, put the FN 2.5 percent ahead… Read More

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WATCH LIVE: Obama and French President Hollande Talk Syria, ISIS In Press Conference

US President Barack Obama and French President Francois Hollande will be speaking about ISIS and the crisis in Syria after a morning of talks at the White House.

Hollande has been vocal in his efforts to get the international community more engaged in directly fighting ISIS after terror attacks struck his nation two weeks ago.

It is unclear how much the events of today: the Turkish downing of a Russian fighter jet and the Syrian rebels (who are armed by the US) downing of a Russian helicopter will impact the international response.

WATCH LIVE: Obama, Hollande speak after joint meetings.


Cover Photo Credit: U.S. Army Europe Images/ Flickr (CC By 2.0)

An American In Paris: Her First Day In The City Of Light Came On November 13

By Taylor Neuman

When planning for a weekend excursion to Paris you expect nothing less but sight-seeing, eating delicious French cuisine, touring the finest art museums, going out and enjoying everything the City of Light has to offer; but this wasn’t the case for me.

On Friday, Nov. 13 I traveled to Paris for an amazing weekend with my study abroad program.

When we got there we immediately ate at this tiny little French café a little ways from our hotel, walked around a bit to get a feel of the area we were in and then came back to get ready for our tour of the Louvre.

We took a big bus to the Louvre. It was absolutely amazing just like everyone had told me, and I was incredibly excited to finally see the Mona Lisa in person.

After about an hour and a half tour, we were all ready to get dinner around the area. Some of us talked about what each other had planned for the night.

Some planned on going to the Germany vs. France game, some planned on seeing the Eiffel Tower lit up at night and some planned on going out and enjoying the nightlife.

A group of my friends and I decided to go to this really tasty crepe place pretty close to the Louvre for dinner, we had planned to meet some friends afterwards at the Eiffel Tower but instead we decided to head back to the hotel and see the Eiffel Tower the next day.

Since we were pretty far from our hotel we decided to take the metro back to our destination.

After waiting for sometime for everyone to get their metro passes we waited patiently for the train to come. Then we hopped on and sat around talking about how excited we were for the night ahead.

 I never thought I would experience Paris this way, the weather was cold and gray and you could feel the sadness that swept throughout the city that day.

After one stop we realized that three police officers had jumped onto the metro.

Over the intercom they started saying something in French, none of us know French so we disregarded it and continued to enjoy ourselves as usual, agreeing that we would just get off the next stop open. When we got off we still had a 15 minute walk back to our hotel. We walked and walked and finally we started to notice police and ambulances flying by one by one, it seemed like it was never going to stop.

We just figured it had something to do with the soccer game, or maybe a bad car accident, we never thought anything more than that. We continued on our path with nothing more than our plans for the night in mind.

People walk in Paris during a winter night. Photo Credit: August Brill/ Flickr (CC By 2.0)

People walk in Paris during a winter night in 2012. Photo Credit: August Brill/ Flickr (CC By 2.0)

We finally arrived to the hotel to find our lobby flooded with people on their phones, crying and watching television.

Immediately I knew something was wrong, I looked at the TV and it was all in French but the only word I could make out was “explosion.”

All of a sudden my heart felt like it was going to fall out of my chest; I didn’t even know how to react. I asked someone what had happened, and they said “terrorist attack,” and what was even worse was that it was only 5-10 minutes away from our hotel, and where we had walked around earlier that day.

The first thing I thought of was calling my parents to tell them what had happened because they didn’t know.

I told them I was safe and that everything was going to be ok, but they immediately panicked.

My friends and I felt so unsafe so we hid ourselves in our hotel room for the rest of the night watching TV and not knowing how to respond to the situation. We didn’t know if we were going to be the next victims, all we saw was the number of deaths and injuries keep rising and we knew it was getting really bad.

All we wanted to know is if all of our friends that went to the soccer game, out to eat, and to the Eiffel Tower were okay. We all fell asleep after finding out everyone from our program made it back to the hotel safe but the feeling of uncertainty still hung over our heads.

The next morning I woke up to the television on and all I could see was 129 dead. I almost threw up.

All of our organized trips were canceled and the president issued a state of emergency so it was almost impossible to go out and see the city. It hit 3 o’clock and all of us were in a state of shock, our group advisors had told us they only wanted us to go in small groups across the street to grab food.

We were eventually allowed to go around sight-seeing but we weren’t allowed to go on public transportation or in big groups so we went to the Eiffel Tower. Security was extremely tight everywhere and there was an overwhelming amount of military personnel and police guarding the streets.

I never thought I would experience Paris this way, the weather was cold and gray and you could feel the sadness that swept throughout the city that day.

We went to go visit the sites where the terrorist attacks occurred and it was probably the hardest thing I ever had to do.

Hundreds of people flooded the streets holding flowers in their hands, tears running down their faces, and lighting candles to remember the victims.

It was something I had never experienced before, a feeling I will never forget.

Taylor Neuman is a writer for Rise News. She is also a student at the University of Alabama who is studying abroad in Europe this semester. 

Cover Photo Credit: Cristian Bortes/ Flickr (CC By 2.0)

Saturday Night Live Honors Paris In Touching Moment Before Show

Saturday Night Live honored the victims of the Paris terror attack before the start of the show with a touching bilingual moment presented by cast member Cecily Strong.

Strong said in English and then repeated in French:

“Paris is the city of light. And here in New York City, we know that light will never go out. Our love and support is with everyone there tonight. We stand with you.”

Cover Photo Credit: NBC/ Screenshot

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