It is still as president – and not as a candidate – that Emmanuel Macron addressed the French on Wednesday March 2. Even before the speech, his relatives had warned: the televised intervention would have no other purpose than the invasion of Ukraine. When the Russian tanks are camped a few kilometers from Kiev, no one can criticize the Head of State for concentrating on this file alone. France has a central role to play in resolving this crisis, not only because it holds the rotating presidency of the Council of the EU, but also because it is the only nuclear power among the Twenty-Seven.
Still, this war places us in an unprecedented political situation. As the President pointed out in his speech, it “comes to crash into our democratic life”. The campaign was already sluggish, here it is frozen. With less than six weeks to the first round, time is suspended. There is – for now – no space for the debate to unfold on the other major issues that are usually discussed on the eve of a major election.
The Ukrainian tragedy has certainly brought to light the geopolitical ambiguities of the most extreme candidates. For the rest, it relegates all the other files to the background. It will be necessary, however, that the French take the time to hear the various protagonists on themes as essential as the climate challenge, migrations, the future of social protection or that of the education system. War takes everything, and it is to be feared that between now and April 10 it will constitute the unique prism of this campaign. But on the eve of a choice that commits for five years, the confrontation of projects is not an option. This is also how we honor and defend the ideal of democracy.