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France Discovers Vetting

Both the French and American presidents have the power to appoint people of their choosing to thousands of public sector positions, starting with their cabinet. The difference in France, however, is that no vetting of their background is required. Presidential nominations are not subject to any checks in France, whereas the equivalent appointments in the United States are generally preceded by...

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A Short Honeymoon

La majorité présidentielle contrôle désormais 65% de l’Assemblée nationale française. Cette victoire retentissante, toutefois, sera de courte durée : Emmanuel Macron aura fort à faire à la rentrée. Macron dispose des pleins pouvoirs. Ce qui, en réalité, lui donne seulement quelques mois de liberté pour accomplir la réforme essentielle, celle du droit du travail, entamée en 2016. A la rentrée, il...

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Macron as an Enlightened Despot

According to early estimates, the République en Marche ! party headed by President Emmanuel Macron is set to control more than 70% of the National Assembly. A rare case of political domination in French history. Macronism is a representation of a French passion: Enlightened despotism, that of Bonaparte and De Gaulle, the quest for a Savior. Its origins are ancient, with Voltaire immediately springing...

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Beware of King Macron

Emmanuel Macron's movement won by a landslide the first round of the French legislative election, held in North America last weekend. There is a real danger the domination of the En Marche ! movement will change the nature of the Republic. Macron’s candidate Roland Lescure came away with 57.53% of the votes in the United States and Canada, putting him 43 points...

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French Legislative Election: A Macron Landslide

En Amérique du Nord comme dans le reste du monde, les Français de l’étranger plébiscitent Emmanuel Macron, lui accordant en moyenne 50,14% des suffrages. Le candidat investi par Emmanuel Macron, Roland Lescure, recueille 57,53% des voix aux Etats-Unis et au Canada, se plaçant quarante-trois points devant son adversaire Républicain, le député sortant Frédéric Lefebvre. Les sortants sont partout battus. Paradoxe :...

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The Handshake

A striking image will remain etched in the public mind after the first meeting between Emmanuel Macron and Donald Trump: That of their interminable handshake. Far from assuming its usual salutary function, the gesture was nothing short of a declaration of independence. Macron had clearly observed Trump’s manners and behavior. Particularly with regard to his vigorous handshake, in which the...

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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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“Good” Muslims, and the Others

The same question is asked every time an Islamist terror attack shocks a Western city, such as Manchester this week. Are terrorists crusading warriors, or simply uprooted, frustrated young men? Are they “good” Muslims? On May 21, Donald Trump was in Riyadh giving a speech to Saudi leaders and the most important kings and emirs of the Arab world. In...

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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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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...