It was not until the very last days that this campaign finally looked like a campaign. Meetings are back. Months of confinement and “social distancing” would have almost made us forget it: politics is a contact sport. Crowds and handshakes, smells of merguez, slightly kitsch t-shirts, squeaky loudspeakers, slogans that are sung – always very loud, often very false. And over there, on the platform, candidates who wet their shirts, try to convince, commit, promise.
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“The militant is an animal which feeds on words”, wrote Mauriac. He also draws his energy from the feeling of being a crowd, in the midst of others. Whether or not we are sensitive to the aesthetics of numbers, we must admit that these meetings were lacking in our democracy. Not that one is fooled by what is said there, nor by the folklore that unfolds there, but because there is a collective interest in public affairs. In the midst of the indifferent, there are still enthusiasts. In these times of massive abstention, there is something reassuring about these images. Not to mention that they are also the sign, despite the masks and barrier gestures, of a welcome return to normal.
Elections can hide others. Sunday, on the big chains, it will be especially about the regional ones. The departmental councils, too, are completely renewed. And this is no small matter, when we know that they are responsible for distributing social assistance (childhood, disability, elderly people, RSA …), that they finance our colleges, our main roads. The departments were hot. In his program, in 2017, Emmanuel Macron proposed to remove a quarter.
Before him, in 2014, Manuel Valls, Prime Minister, announced their outright removal, François Hollande adding: “I think the departments have lived. “ Seven years later, they are still there. The pandemic has shown how relevant this level is in times of crisis. And even if their numbers no longer necessarily appear on license plates, for many French people they still constitute an element of identification.
Beware of optical effects. The figure of Greta Thunberg and the strength of the mobilizations for the climate were able to maintain in some the illusion that this would be reflected in the ballot box. The reality is more complex. Contrary to popular belief, it is abusive in France to speak of “Generation Greta”. This is what shows a major and unprecedented study published this week in The cross.
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The majority of 16-30 year olds are either indifferent (19%) or distant supporters (38%) to the environmental cause. The latter, as the researchers write, “Does not necessarily structure political practices”. Optimists will add: ” Not yet. “ Others : “There is still work to be done! “ And all will be right. There is indeed a dynamic. Environmental issues have emerged spectacularly and relatively quickly in the public debate. Politically, this allowed environmentalists to prevail in big cities like Grenoble, Lyon, Bordeaux. But it will take time, strength of conviction and – at the risk of offending some – compromises, for the environmental cause to deeply and durably structure our public life.