Opinion | There Really Is a French Exception

Opinion | There Really Is a French Exception

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Nonetheless, the impression that prevails at present is that the federal government isn’t listening sufficient to the Gilets jaunes’ considerations, as if it nonetheless hadn’t appreciated the seriousness of the disaster. And hasn’t the so-called nice debate largely served the president to this point?

Saying so is likely to be going a bit far, or mistaking results for intentions. Nevertheless it’s value noting that the federal government hardly arrange any conferences or direct exchanges with the Gilets jaunes as such. As an alternative of reaching out to them, Mr. Macron most well-liked to interact with native officers or different extraordinary residents.

Nor has the good debate spawned any actual representatives among the many Gilets jaunes — a vacuum that makes concrete negotiations troublesome. The motion’s very nature contributed to this, after all, since repeatedly the Gilets jaunes themselves pushed again in opposition to any try to construction or formalize their efforts. For a short second there appeared to be an impulse to create a political celebration from the motion or a minimum of let emerge some official spokespeople. However that not appears remotely doable.

Mr. Macron, even when confronted with the breakdown of the political system itself, has continued to deal with issues from the highest down and with out resorting to intermediaries. As an alternative of transferring away from this vertical method, he has exploited it. His solely credible political opponents now are events on the extremes, on the far left (Jean-Luc Mélenchon and La France Insoumise) and the far proper (Marine Le Pen and le Rassemblement Nationwide). In keeping with polls, the president’s celebration is main the race for the European elections.

Was all this a strategic calculation? Fairly most likely. In any occasion, the scenario at present is a far cry from auguring the renewal of this democratic system. Essentially the most that has emerged to this point is a handful of proposals from civil society — for instance, this system for a greener financial system collectively put ahead by Nicolas Hulot, a former setting minister, and Laurent Berger, the top of France’s main (and reformist) union, the Confédération française démocratique du travail (the French Democratic Confederation of Labor).

France, in contrast to different international locations, has been lucky sufficient to expertise a well-liked upheaval that has raised severe financial, social and institutional questions. Elsewhere — in Britain, the USA, Italy, Poland, Hungary — the discontent instantly lapsed into populism, nationalism or withdrawal. But when the French authorities doesn’t adequately handle the respectable, or a minimum of cheap, considerations of the Gilets jaunes, it runs the chance of pushing them, in addition to different French folks, towards the pitfalls France has prevented to this point.

Michel Wieviorka, a sociologist, is the top of the Fondation Maison des Sciences de l’Homme, in Paris, and a member of the European Analysis Council’s Scientific Council. This essay was translated from the French by The New York Instances.

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