It’s been an exciting spring in French politics. For those of you who have been hiding under a rock (totally understandable, by the way), there was an important French election last month. Marine LePen, a xenophobic, reactionary leader of the National Front party was up against Emmanuel Macron, a centrist politician who was totally bland but promised to keep France in the EU, keep borders open, and maintain a progressive stance. Macron created a new political party, En Marche!, just a year ago. The French yet again proved their superiority to America and managed to elect the not-crazy politician. Bien joué, France. (Well-played, France.)
Aside from his unique love live (his wife Brigitte reinvents the term “cougar” as she is 25 years his senior, and his former high school drama teacher), Macron the candidate was pretty darn boring. But many people, including Barack Obama, saw him as the savior to protect France from the nationalist trend parts of the country had been embracing. Since the election, though, Macron has been killing it. He has stood up to Donald Trump. He has welcomed American climate scientists to France. (Though one may rightly question his pronunciation of the word “engineers”. Please give it a listen.) He’s totally not boring any more, and really starting to look presidential.
The complicated thing is, there are like 20 political parties in France. And in order to govern effectively, the French president needs to have a significant backing in Parliament, either with members of his/her own party, or with coalition building. As I mentioned earlier, Macron just recently created his own party, so one would think it should be an uphill battle to elect a lot of members of his party to Parliament.
Parliamentary elections are this coming weekend, and the following weekend. You can’t avoid hearing about this. There are boards all over the place where people post political advertisements – here’s one across the street from our apartment:
(Did I mention that Macron is kind of cute? And also baby-faced, but if he’s anything like Obama he’ll age pretty quickly in office.) In our quiet town, you can’t walk five blocks without being handed a political flyer.
First of all, it’s kind of awesome that French elections are always (I think) held on a Sunday. In this most recent presidential election, turnout was “low” at like 70%. When was the last time we had that kind of turnout in America?! Secondly, let’s be honest, it’s awesome/ridiculous that there is an exclamation point in the name of the political party. And thirdly, who would have guessed it, but Macron’s party is crushing it in the polls leading up to the election. Which is great, because what’s the use of a progressive candidate if he can’t effectively govern.
I had a great 8 year stretch where I was proud of my nation’s president. (Thanks, Obama!) These days, I throw up in my mouth a little any time I hear the words “President” and “Trump” in the same breath. It’s really nice to be proud, again, of the president in the nation where I live. Here’s to a strong showing in the parliamentary elections! En marche!