French voters chose two candidates for the second round of the presidential elections on May 7, 2017: Emmanuel Macron (24.01%) and Marine Le Pen (21.30%). Which meant that there was an enormous reserve of voters left, namely those who voted for François Fillon (20.01%) and Jean-Luc Mélenchon (19.58%). The two finalists as well as their teams doubled their focus, speeches as well as promises and sowed fear of the other candidate in case of their election, in order to win over the voters of the unlucky 3rd and 4th place candidates as well as all the other undecided voters.
Win over does not necessarily mean “vote for.” For Marine Le Pen, her goal was also to increase the abstention rate or the blank vote, which would work towards getting her elected!
All the same, we witnessed a rather aggressive campaign between the two rounds, which consisted of revealing the limits of the other candidate’s personality and scaring French voters about the fall-out if the other was elected. If it was all decided on fear and limits, indeed, the weaknesses of both candidates, we do not emerge any greater from this democratic duel. Attracting the voters of the other candidates and the undecided at all costs caused us to go from a fractured French society to a society of retaliation!
Thus, it is a cause for concern. A call for unity in support of the new president elect does not seem like it will come to pass. How can we keep an open mind regarding the other if, today, we stand behind our dividing line and target the other candidate’s personality or the weaknesses of the other camp. A results-oriented approach is not present in the spirit of the candidates: defending and arguing in favor of a program, hopefully with a little charisma, and promising self-censorship in case of the failure of its application.
It is even more upsetting that the political calculations will most likely not allow the next president to have their majority in order to apply said program. Thus, after months of mobilizing voters to elect a Head of State, in the end, they will be incapable of governing… They will be able to preside, in terms of the legitimacy of their election, but will not have the majority to govern. Throughout the history of the 5th Republic, it will be a first, given that coalition governments in the past only occurred after a few years of a presidential majority.
Once again, 2017 escapes reasonable forecasts, following the example of 2016, which saw both Brexit and the election of Mr. D. Trump comfortably prevail, come what may. After England and America’s unforeseeable results, let’s see where the unknown will take us in France!