Election Angst

We Must Help France Face the Future

  • Why it matters

    Why it matters

    French voters may express their dissatisfaction with their own, and the EU’s, status quo at this weekend’s elections. But the problems the nation faces won’t go away, no matter who is elected. Nor will the need for help from outside, the author says.

  • Facts


    • On Sunday, French voters will go to the polls for the first round of the French presidential elections. The four leading candidates reflect four very disparate movements within French society.
    • At the same time, a large number of French voters – around a third – remain undecided, making a result impossible to predict.
    • France’s problems include 10 percent unemployment and in 2018, a likely breach of EU rules on deficits.
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The eleven French presidential election candidates take part in a special political television show entitled “15min to Convince” at the studios of French Television channel France 2 in Saint-Cloud
The 11 French presidential candidates take part in a special political television show three days before voting. Source: Reuters/Martin Bureau

France is in bad shape. Germany’s most important European partner will likely exceed the 3 percent deficit limit set by the euro zone in 2018. Unemployment is at almost 10 percent. A lack of competitive ability is destroying whole branches of industry and even the slightest effort at reform gets bogged down in union disputes. Even worse, for what seems like an eternity, France’s political elite has been unable to present people with any programs or candidates that even come close to being convincing.

On the contrary, they continue to distance themselves from voters’ reality. And so it is that Marine Le Pen, with her right-wing populism and isolationism, is determining the debates of the day – and on April 23, has a chance of coming out of the ballot as the winner.

But this is only one part of the French reality and the answers presented are often too simplistic. There is no one cause and therefore, no one solution for “the French problem.”

Like many industrialized nations in the era of globalization, French society is also marked by contrasts, differing dynamics and complex and multifaceted tension.

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