Emmanuel Macron was re-elected president of France on Sunday – but with just 58.5 percent of the vote. The Right-wing populist Marine Le Pen won with 41.5 percent. German-French essayist, journalist and translator Jürgen Rite has been president of the German-French Journalism Course at the Sorbonne-Nouvelle University in Paris since 1999. As a literary critic and co-founder of the German Marcel Proust Society, he is closely linked to the cultural scene.
Is the result of the elections in France a victory for Macron or Lupine’s rejection?
Jürgen Rette: This is the question about the glass being half full or half empty. Macron is considered the winner of an attack against Madame Le Pen today. But I think you can consider it a victory for Macron. After all, the French showed themselves to be somewhat smarter than the British when they voted for Brexit.
This Macron choice was also a choice for Europe. This is something Macron made clear again in last week’s televised debate: that Europe had come to an end and that the Western world would also have had a big problem with it. This resonated with many voters.
Also in your university, the Sorbonne, many students did not really feel represented by either. In Germany, Macron has always been seen as a very charismatic personality and has a very good reputation. Where does it come from?
ride: There is no alternative. This is the biggest problem in France. This has to do with our constitution, with the Fifth Republic, with this fixed majority voting system and with the collapse of the old classic party scene, so that in the end between right-wing extremists – this is Marine Le Pen – and a somewhat conservative politician – like Emmanuel Macron – were elections.
This does not work out well with many students who are very concerned with environmental protection, as well as with social justice. Although one has to say that Macron’s bad reputation as a social politician in France is totally unjustified. He is someone who has made some progress in the social field as well. But then he was a victim of far-right or far-left propaganda.
Now it is repeatedly said that France is divided. how do you feel? And where it comes from?
ride: I think the split was something that was talked about. Marine Le Pen’s campaign was one in which she portrayed herself as a kind of Mother Teresa to the poor and dispossessed. This puts a certain sarcastic smile on your face, considering where this lady comes from and what she stands for. It also wants to alienate the weakest of the weak. Slightly split.
There is another division, much more effective in France, and that is between the permanent right, the counter-revolutionaries, if you will, and those invoking the French Revolution. This can be traced throughout French history. This is consistent to this day, unfortunately Madame Le Pen is on this page.
Many cultural workers also called for Macron to be elected, perhaps also due to the lack of an alternative: the art of living together and the culture of a common world. What should Macron do now to control this difficult situation or end the division?
ride: On the one hand, he can only hope that the international situation and the epidemic situation will calm down. He had a terrible time with Corona and now with the conflict in Ukraine. What he has to do is make sure he starts something like a party.
What he has so far, what supports the majority, is actually nothing more than a movement. The best that could in fact happen is that the French party scene may recover a bit in the next legislative elections, the elections to the National Assembly. That there is a real opposition, perhaps a leftist opposition again in the Assemblée Nationale, that the alternative opens up again. this is the most important.
It is in the nature of flow that there is a consequence on one side or the other, i.e. 60/40. How do you think it will be in five years?
ride: In five years, Macron will no longer be allowed to run. It is just a one man operation. Macron cannot afford what will happen in the next five years alone, that is not necessarily his job. The bourgeois right camp or the left bourgeois camp must be able to reconstitute themselves to the point where they can send a reliable candidate into the field—against the still existing movement of the Front or National Rally at the time. Whether she will still be Marine Le Pen, who has now lost to him for the third time in a row, is another matter.
led conversation Philip Schmid.