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The Symbol of the French Legislative Elections

June 2017 will see each of the 577 French legislative constituencies choose a deputy (equivalent to a member of Congress) to represent them at the National Assembly for the next five years. French people living in North America will elect their representative from 17 candidates on June 3 and 17. We can predict with some certainty which two main candidates...

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La Fête des Mères Versus Mother’s Day

There are two weeks between Mother’s Day in the United States and France, the former taking place on the second Sunday in May and the latter on the last. But calendars aside, their totally distinct origins sum up just how different our two societies really are. Mother’s Day in the U.S.A. was started in a Methodist church in West Virginia in 1908 by a...

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Macron, the Vocabulary of a Generation

By voting en masse for Emmanuel Macron, French people living in the United States chose a politician who is like them: business-minded, dynamic and open to the world. Has Emmanuel Macron been granted a true, popular mandate driven by his personality and his manifesto, or was he elected by default? The answer is probably both. The French presidential election bore a striking resemblance to...

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The National Front, a French Enigma

How can we define this party? Those who look kindly on it may describe it as patriotic, popular and a supporter of sovereignty. Hostile critics would prefer the terms populist, nationalist and fascist. In fact, it is both. Regardless of the (predictable) result of the French presidential election, we may wonder about what I feel is the most remarkable event of the electoral...

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The Demise of the French Party System? Not Just Yet!

The French election's central drama is more a characteristic of the rhetoric of the analysts than of the French polity, writes William Schonfeld, a professor of political science at UC-Irvine. Most commentators on the 2017 French presidential elections have emphasized the dramatic nature of the results. The traditional parties of the left and right have been eliminated on the first...

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France’s Question: an Open or a Closed Society?

On May 6 and 7, the French will decide between a populist presidential candidate and her liberal (in the classical, European sense) adversary. As has often been the case in the past, this French debate may announce a new era. It appears that this confrontation between liberalism and populism is taking the place of the left/right cleavage and that a...

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Dear France

Dear France, I get nostalgic when I hear My Way sung by Frank Sinatra, because I remember Claude François singing the same song (which he composed!) as Comme d’Habitude. I usually nudge the person next to me and whisper: “You know, that is a French song.” And when I wander down Lafayette Street I tell people that the French most likely...

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A New Political Spectrum

It is no accident that the two finalists in the French presidential election, Macron and Le Pen, do not coincide with the traditional left/right cleavage. This cleavage has become by and large, irrelevant. The French presidential election suggests a new understanding of political reality, one that might be applied, I think, to Western democracies generally: nations continue to be divided...

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The End of the Party System?

“The system against which most voters are voting is primarily the party system," writes Martin Schain, a professor of politics at New York University. The French presidential election has now become front-page news, even in America preoccupied with Trump tweets. Less than a week from the first round, the closeness of the race, combined with a possible (by no means probable) victory of...

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A Real Choice for French Voters

This weekend, the French will be called to elect their next president out of 11 candidates. This French multi-party system is a shock to Americans, who are used to choosing between a Democrat and a Republican. Despite the high number of candidates, the French presidential election offers voters a clear choice. Unlike all previous elections, the dividing line is no longer between...

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France and the Jews Are Pawns in Marine Le Pen’s Hands

The recent revisionist declarations from Marine Le Pen have utterly destroyed her efforts to straighten out her party’s image. The National Front will never be a regular party. American historian Robert Paxton established the indisputable truth on France in World War II. In Vichy France, published in 1973, Paxton revealed that since October 1940, Marshal Pétain’s government had created a file listing the names and...

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Le Pen, Trump: Same Difference?

Just like Donald Trump, Marine Le Pen is nationalist, protectionist, somewhat authoritarian and staunchly anti-Islam. But unlike the American president, Marine Le Pen is anti-capitalist. When questioned by a journalist from The Financial Times, Donald Trump admitted that he had never met Marine Le Pen. Clearly France isn’t on the President Trump’s radar. And it’s not for Marine Le Pen’s lack of trying. Remember...

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Do You Speak Francophone?

It has come to my attention that the Maisons Françaises of New York University and Columbia University, two places that are symbolic of French culture in the United States, may soon be renamed “Maison françaises et francophones.” This initiative leaves me perplexed. I do not know what to think of this change, and I wonder what the French and American readers of France-Amérique...

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NATO and the Trump Enigma

The French government and its diplomats in the United States are increasingly confused. What exactly does Trump want? What does he really think about Europe and NATO? Are the answers to be found in his violently anti-European and anti-NATO campaign statements? In his equally aggressive tweets? Or perhaps in his praise of NATO upon meeting Angela Merkel in Washington? No...

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Awkward Gifts and Misunderstandings

American sculptor Jeff Koons has given the city of Paris one of his creations: a gaudy work inspired by the Statue of Liberty. But no one wants to pay for it. The French congressman Edouard de Laboulaye began raising funds in 1865 in order to give the Americans the Statue of Liberty. The gift symbolized friendship between the two countries,...

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Corruption Decreases in France Thanks to the Americans

A French aircraft manufacturer based in the United States once drew my attention to the fact that corruption is decreasing all over the world, including in France, thanks to the American justice system. Some 50 years ago, the sale of a French aircraft in India would have implied the payment of obscure commissions and various bribes, costing Indian officials up...

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A Wind of Madness Blows Over Franco-American Relations

Donald Trump has shocked France. The American president laments the disappearance of an eternal Paris, while U.S. immigration officers detain French researchers at the border. It all started when Donald Trump declared that Americans should not visit France. The Potus said his (probably non-existent) friend, “Jim,” had told him he would no longer be visiting the French capital because “Paris wasn’t Paris anymore.” The message is...

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We Need to Talk About Racial Violence

France and the United States are unfortunate contenders when it comes to urban violence. The clashes between the police and young people from minority groups — Afro-American and Hispanic in the U.S.A., and Arab and African in France — are following the same pattern in both countries, but their respective government’s attitudes differ. The environment for this violence — the banlieues in France...

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The French Source of Trumpism

Steve Bannon is Donald Trump’s closest advisor — some even refer to him as his Rasputin — and his supposed role as the administration’s ideologist terrifies his opponents. Bannon used to work as an investment banker and media mogul, and is in theory not a renowned intellectual. He seems intent on leading a Manichean battle against the non-Christian world, but...

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Money in France and the United States

In the United States, being a billionaire paves the way to the White House. In France, presidential candidates are expected to be poor (or at least appear so). The majority of Trump’s predecessors, with the exception of Clinton, were very wealthy. Their prosperity was, and is, seen as proof of success and a shield against corruption. The opposite is true...

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Trump: A User’s Guide

The whole world is pondering how Donald Trump works. His unwaveringly enthusiastic supporters feel he is staying true to his program, which in itself is quite original; faced with post-campaign reality, leaders tend to water down their previous promises and aim for a consensus. We should therefore expect Trump to stay in campaign mode, instead of trying to build bridges...