All eighteen regions of France — thirteen in Europe and five overseas, counting Mayotte — hold assembly elections this Sunday and next. The assemblies in turn elect regional presidents, whose powers are more limited than those of American and German state governors.
More than 4,000 council seats across 96 departments — the administrative level between regions and municipalities — are also contested.
These are the last major elections in France before the presidential and National Assembly elections in April and May of next year. They are less a test of President Emmanuel Macron’s reelection prospects than a preview of whether he will be challenged by the center-right or far right.
French president Emmanuel Macron has proposed to hire an additional 10,000 cops before his term expires in a year, tighten laws against online hate speech and revise laws on criminal responsibility that allowed the killer of an elderly Jewish woman to go free.
In an interview with the conservative newspaper Le Figaro, the liberal head of state warns that “everyday violence” is on the rise and vows to “push back delinquency everywhere.”
First they published a ridiculous hit piece arguing Spain’s center-left prime minister, Pedro Sánchez, is the greatest threat to democracy since Francisco Franco. Now it’s Emmanuel Macron’s turn.
Robert Zaretsky, a history professor at the University of Houston, accuses the French president of becoming “authoritarian”.
To be fair, Zaretsky recognizes that a measure of autocracy is built into France’s presidential-centric Fifth Republic. On paper, the French president is the most powerful leader in democratic Europe; both ceremonial head of state and chief executive. Every president, from Charles de Gaulle to François Mitterrand, has been accused of dominating French politics in their time.
Macron is no different. Zaretsky marshals little evidence to prove this president (ab)uses the powers of his office more than his predecessors. Read more “The Dictator of France”
Charles de Gaulle’s great achievement, to paraphrase his British biographer, Julian Jackson, was that he reconciled the French left to patriotism and the French right to democracy.
The history of France since 1789 has been a consistent struggle between a universalist left and the conservative right; between republic and monarchy; the Enlightenment and Catholicism; labor and capital; Paris and La France profonde.
History hasn’t ended. Emmanuel Macron and Marine Le Pen embody opposite visions of France today. But de Gaulle narrowed the divide and helped Frenchmen and -women think of each other as opponents rather than enemies.
That America could use a whiff of Gaullism isn’t my idea. Ross Douthat, the conservative columnist of The New York Times, called for an American de Gaulle two years ago.
The American left’s vilification of Emmanuel Macron continues.
Karen Attiah accuses the French president in The Washington Post of “pandering to Islamophobic sentiment” and flirting “with political authoritarianism.”
His crimes? “Pressuring” Islamic leaders to respect “republican values”. Putting restrictions on homeschooling, including canceling a program with teachers from Algeria, Morocco and Turkey. Somehow making “life miserable for innocent Muslims” — Attiah gives no detail.
You would think the murder of three Christian worshippers in Nice — a 60 year-old woman, the 55 year-old sexton and a 44 year-old Brazilian-born mother of three — coming on the heels of the beheading of a schoolteacher in a Parisian suburb, would convince American and British journalists and opinion writers that France really has an Islamic terrorism problem, and it’s not a figment of President Emmanuel Macron’s imagination.