Democracy in jeopardy has become the “mantra of the moment”, what with the ups and downs of populist nationalist movements in so many of what we have considered to be the bulwarks of democracy – with France being a prime example of this. Hence, this series on “democracy in jeopardy” has included a continuing study of political elections in France. A convenient flow of French elections (at the municipal level in March and June 2020, at the regional and departmental level in June 2021, at the Presidential level in April 2022 and finally at the parliamentary elections in June 2022) provides a timely, ongoing opportunity to assess these ups and downs. I have been writing about these French elections from the perspective of an American living in France, with a deep interest in how even the strongest of democracies, like France or the US or India, are in jeopardy of succumbing to the forces of authoritarian populism. My interest extends, furthermore, to looking at the similarities and differences between French and American political cultures and systems of governance. Here, Round 4 of the series addresses the outcome of the French parliamentary elections that were held on 10 and 17 June 2022.
French elections have been held at the municipal level in 2020 (what I have been calling Round One), regional level in 2021 (Round Two), and now at the presidential (Round Three) and legislative (Round Four) levels in 2022. I have been writing about them in the context of an American living in France, with a deep interest in how even the strongest of democracies are in jeopardy of succumbing to the forces of authoritarian populism. My interest extends, furthermore, to looking at the similarities and differences between French and American democratic cultures and systems of governance. In my latest essay on France, written just as the presidential election was “officially” underway, my focus was on three leading concerns affecting how democratic governance may be in jeopardy, even in a country like France. These concerns are (1) the apparent absence of real debate among the candidates, (2) the anticipated low voter turnout, and (3) the potential of this election (in April) on broader coalition-building for effective governance in the longer term. In this essay, I take another look at each of these concerns and assess how they affected the final outcome of the presidential election. – but also on the spillover effects in these three respects for the forthcoming legislative elections. Continue reading “Democracy in Jeopardy: Round Three and Four French Presidential and Legislative Elections 2022”
The European response to the Russian invasion of Ukraine has upended the political scene across Europe – and around the world. While the Americans and President Joe Biden may take the credit for leading the global response to a deranged Vladimir Putin, the French President Emmanuel Macron has taken on a truly pivotal role in the search for a ceasefire and a peaceful resolution to the conflict. As a result, the French presidential election has been dramatically shaken by the crisis. In this continuing series of commentaries on “Democracy in Jeopardy”, this election in France has taken on a far more significant role. Continue reading “Democracy in Jeopardy: The French Presidential Election in Progress”
The campaign for the French presidential election in April is in full swing – minus the most obvious candidate, Emmanuel Macron – who is also the front-runner. Here it is already mid-February, less than 60 days to Round One on 10 April. His announcement has been expected for some time in mid-February but has clearly been delayed, given his preoccupations with an odd combination of diplomatic and domestic uncertainties. In this series of essays on “Democracy in Jeopardy”, I have been looking at the challenges to democracy even where democracies have traditionally been the strongest – in countries like France, India and the United States. In this essay, I survey the 2022 French presidential election campaign, with its plethora of competing candidates, all of whom are maneuvering to be the one to defeat President Macron’s expected bid for a second run to the Elysée Palace. Will this election help to reverse the alarming signs of global disillusionment with democracy, even in a country like France, or will it fall prey to ever more bumps on the road? Here’s a first look at the French scene, with additional segments planned as the campaign unfolds. Continue reading “Democracy in Jeopardy: French Case Study, Round 3: the 2022 Presidential Elections”
In this series of reflections on “Democracy in Jeopardy”, I have chosen to focus initially on a number of “sub-national” elections in 2021, in part because there are several of them happening in 2021 that have attracted my personal interest – in France, India and the US. The series starts with an introduction (available here) to the concerns that I share with so many others on the growing threats to democracy, even in countries with a strong democratic heritage like these three. The French case study is the first of the three case studies in the series, and this is the second essay on the French 2021 elections. Other case studies will follow on the US and India. This analysis will eventually link up with essays on what is happening in these countries and on democratic trends generally, but here the focus is on France. Continue reading “Democracy in Jeopardy: French Regional and Departmental Elections, Round Two”
What follows here is my first commentary on electoral politics in France for this series on “Democracy in Jeopardy”. It is part of an ongoing series of commentaries to explore a number of specific settings – I have chosen France, India and the US. I write these commentaries from my personal perspective as someone who has lived in all three countries but also as an interested observer who has studied and written about electoral politics academically. All three have long been identified as strong democracies that are all, nonetheless, being confronted with particularly serious challenges today. I started this series with a general commentary on democracy in jeopardy (available here), and I will be linking these specific case studies to this overall perspective from time to time. Continue reading “Democracy in Jeopardy: French Regional and Departmental Elections”
The shock of Trump lingers among those of us – of which I am one – who had not fully understood that democratic societies are not permanent fixtures in the political scheme of things. In an effort to record my own appreciation of the fluidity of democracy, I have decided to start a running series of commentaries on “Democracy in Jeopardy”. They will include three case studies of how democracies are being challenged today – case studies in which I am personally interested – the Bengali elections in India, the PACA regional elections in France, and the statewide elections in the American state of Virginia. They all involve “sub-national” elections that are occurring this year (2021), with significant national implications for the future of democracy in each country. But first, I start the series here with some personal reflections on why I am inspired to write about the overall issue of democracy in jeopardy. Continue reading “Democracy in Jeopardy: A Running Series of Commentaries on the US, France and India”
This is an essay on the municipal elections in France, not on the COVID-19 hysteria that has taken over our thoughts and deeds for the uncertain future. My focus is on the similarities and differences between municipal elections in France and in the US. I draw on my personal experiences with municipal elections in the US and my personal observations of the municipal campaigns in the town of Grasse. While there are many paths to a political career, and many levels of civic activism, whether in the US or France, the politics at the municipal level highlights the significance of the adage “All politics is local”.