The Brief – Trump language obscures race for Élysée – EURACTIV.com

As the French presidential elections on April 10 and 24 approach, the idea that the ballot could be stolen or rigged is gaining ground, a claim advanced by candidates from all political backgrounds who seek to distract and manipulate or sincerely believe.

But stolen by whom? On this point, none of those who cry foul is clear.

Jfar-right candidate Éric Zemmour fanned the crowd at a rally last Sunday, assuring them that he would “wash away the affronts of the right, the affronts of the people who have the legitimate feeling that they have been stole his vote for too long” adding that “the masked vote” will reveal itself on April 10.

Earlier in the week, Conservative candidate Valérie Pécresse urged her supporters not to “let the election be robbed”.

And then there is the sovereignist Nicolas Dupont-Aignan, who has repeatedly complained of a “rigged election from A to Z”. He would have become Marine Le Pen’s prime minister in 2017, if she had won…

Since then, he’s wallowed in conspiracy and anti-vaccine theories and peddled Kremlin arguments.

His Trumpian approach has been pretty consistent, crying foul in advance – just like the former US president did ahead of the 2020 election.

Likewise, the radical left candidate Jean-Luc Mélenchon predicted in the summer of 2021 that “in the last week of the presidential campaign, we will have a serious incident or a murder”. His remarks rejected by the entire political class and qualified as “a mixture of paranoia and conspiracy” by Marlène Schiappa, minister responsible for citizenship.

Now we don’t know who will win. Even if Emmanuel Macron is the big favorite at this stage, his victory cannot be taken for granted. Especially since the French tend to cut off their heads – figuratively speaking. Of the four presidents before Macron, only two have been re-elected.

More than a third of voters are unsure of their choice, so everything can still change very quickly, and the polls could turn out to be wrong.

Add to that a beautiful sun on D-Day, and some less politicized or less convinced French people may prefer to go away for the weekend rather than go to the polls… And that adds another layer of uncertainty.

Le Pen has never been so close to victory – and Macron’s teams worry about it, both on TV and “unofficially”. Mélenchon is also progressing slowly but steadily and could create a surprise.

Regardless of who wins, to suggest that the election is rigged is irresponsible, increases the public’s sense of mistrust in institutions and only adds more fuel to the already heavy political climate in the country.

With activists pumped up and convinced they’ve been cheated, a “Capitol mob scenario” isn’t impossible.

Perhaps not in the same form, but we may have forgotten too quickly the massive demonstrations of Yellow Vestswhen citizens, angry with the system and demanding to be heard, occupy the streets of Paris every Saturday for months.

One of their leaders, Priscillia Ludosky, has already warned that “if Macron is re-elected, there is a good chance that I will call on people to take to the streets”.

The future president will have an important task: to reconcile and heal a country that will emerge fractured from this election, and to think of a new, fairer and more representative regime, far from the “republican monarchy” of which the Fifth Republic is accused. to be.

But they won’t be able to do so if other politicians and commentators continue to “cheat” political life.


The roundup

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Like every Wednesday, don’t forget to consult our Green Brief and the Health Brief, the weekly summaries of political news.

Pay attention to…

  • The European Parliament organizes a webinar on the war in Ukraine: disinformation versus reality.
  • The French Presidency of the Council of the EU hosts the meetings of the Directors of Continental Europe and the Directors of Fisheries.
  • The OSCE Parliamentary Assembly is organizing a meeting on Achieving Gender Equality in Parliament: Expert Meeting for International Stakeholders and Academia.

The views are those of the author.

[Edited by Benjamin Fox/Zoran Radosavljevic]