(J’ai mis en ligne une version en français de cette article sur mon blog)
Today I want to stress something about the way my political party, the French “Parti socialiste” is working for the designation of our candidates in order to run for the up-coming European elections of may 2014.
France is a very centralized State, a unitary republic with a huge and powerful capital “Paris” and very little power (either politically or economically speaking) from other parts of the state. So, of course, Political parties tends to reflect this reality.
I am a member of both PS (Parti Socialiste) and PES (Party of European Socialists) since 2009. The up-coming European elections are important for me because I would like to avoid meeting a 2014 turnout less important than in 2009. In fact, and this is sad for the European parliament (which was first elected by citizens in 1979), global turnout has always been less and less important as time flies from 1979 to 2009. This is a major problem we really need to fix. And this sad rule do not apply only to French politics but to any EU member ! You can check this out just clicking on this official EP website link !
Very often, we hear that the PS is a democratic party where activists frequently vote. This is truth. No one can deny that. But mainly, with may be an exception for local constituency of city councils, propositions and lists we are asked to vote for are unilateral decisions from Paris, Solférino, and most of the time we are not really consulted during the process.
Let’s come back to the upcoming EP elections. I would say that the average voter, I would only remembers the first one of the list he decides to vote for. For instance, during last EP elections in France, I remembered more voting for Vincent Peillon rather than Sylvie Guillaume who was the second person to appear in the list. At this time, I was not already a member of the PS. I would admit that it is important to have a well known person to be first on the list, and especially someone who is known throughout the whole country. And no one would deny that Mr Peillon fits to that function more than Ms Guillaume does. But the problem is that Mr Peillon had done almost nothing as a MEP and eventually resigned to be French minister of “Education nationale” ! And unfortunately the same will happen again in 2014. I heard that the main reason to have Mr Peillon leading the list is to have the strongest and most powerful person to fight against our far-right and euroskeptical French party “Front national”. I also heard informal informations about the idea that running for an MEP post is a nice way to still a second choice opportunity if it happens that he can’t stay minister forever. But how the hell do you want to explain that to local activists who are asked to vote in favor of someone they barely even know or meet during the last european parliament election and during his mandate in the EP ! I voted against this list, and I am not the only one, Romain Blachier adopted the same behavior. I would say that internal elections in the PS are not a real votes. Because a vote is when you have a choice between two or more than two propositions. When you are asked to vote for or against someone, this is not a vote, it’s more like a referendum. And I can add that, when not associated with the decision process, and when demanded to provide support to Paris’ made decisions, it is a plebiscite referendum. A plebiscite is not just nothing, it has to do with Roman law. I would propose you to check what was a plebiscite from the plebe in Roman law just to figure out what I am talking about. Which has not, in my view, a lot of things in common with democracy.
The problem I evoked with Mr Peillon is not the only one in France. I need to explain how EP elections are organized in France. For every member state of the EU, the EP elections are not regulated with the same rules, it’s up to member states to organize their own elections. For instance in Romania, there is only one list for the whole country. It was also the case in France, a long time ago. In France we several “euroregions” with their own elections. With Vincent Peillon, I was speaking about Sud Est. But let’s speak about Ile de France : it is the same situation ! Harlem Désir, secretary deputy general of the PS, is candidate even though he has nothing to do with the EP, and you have a very nice MEP, a woman, Pervenche Bérès, just right after. This thing raises two problems : the first one, well known, is that EP elections are unfortunately far more driven by national context than european issues and european goals, the second one is that in France women are more serious and hardworking than men in the EP whereas men are always on the top of the list !!! I am not a feminist, because I am a man and I truly believe that can’t be a real feminist being a male. As a woman, you always need to do better, and to do more if you want to be as considerated as your male colleagues.
But for sure, I can say that sometimes it seems to be gender issue, at least in France. I am not quite sure of what I am saying here, I just want to raise a debate about gender, MEP and French politics.
And, just in order to be less sure and harsh about that, even if I love the work of Pervenche Bérès, especially when she confronted Mario Draghi with his past career in Goldman Sach investment bank before becoming ECB chairman (just to mention that Mario Draghi was trying to deal with and help Greece even though he may have been aware of very secret and bad deals between Greece and Goldman Sachs before the beginning of the euro currency) but that’s true that Pascal Canfin did the same. And last but not least, Gilles Pargneaux seems to be a good MEP too.