French elections! To us on the receiving end of civilization, democracy and wisdom from self-appointed master-thinkers, it feels like poetic justice, yet one is unsure whether to laugh or cry. At the exception of Canada and Mr. Justin Trudeau its Prime Minister, the rest of the west seems caught up a never-ending horror movie; it’s comic and tragic at the same time; it is… tragicomic.
So what’s happening in France? The same thing that just happened in the US and in the UK, and about to happen in Holland and all over Europe; The French are faced with a choice between an outspoken demagogue and a novice oligarch. The political elite they once held in high-esteem turned out not as pious as they’d portrayed themselves to be; A sort of hangover vote then, as it were, to the political establishment the French electorate was about to ‘give the good Lord without confession’, an old French adage.
For the first time since the creation of the Fifth Republic by Le General De Gaule in the late fifties, the two major political parties seem in deep turmoil and likely to lose power. Both the ‘Parti Socialiste’ - the Liberals of incumbent Francois Hollande and the Conservatives of his predecessor Nicolas Sarkozy, formerly ‘Un Movement Populaire’ (UMP), and just re-baptised: ‘Les Republicains’ (LR), following a big scandal of embezzling campaign funds.
The ‘Front de Gauche’ - the pure Liberals, of my favorite French politician Mr. Jean-Luc Melenchon, doesn’t show any luck either. Think of him as his American counterpart Bernie Sanders; both filled with good intentions but considered by the electorate as idealists whom would be better off opening churches than running in politics. Then there is ‘Europe Écologie Les Verts’ (EELV); the Greens, not much different from our own greens in Rwanda; politically irrelevant; also better-off running NGOs, which come to think of it, is what their parties really are.
Tough too is how things look for the ‘Mouvement Democratique’ (Mo-Dem) of the Centrist Francois Bayrou. The proud mayor of a small village named Pau, a onetime kingmaker has become less and less influential, and more and more the clown cast in legendary French political satire ‘Les Guignols de l’info’.
Then there is the ‘Front National’ (FN), founded by outspoken racist Jean-Marie Le Pen, and now run by his daughter Marine and grand niece, Marion Marechal. Both ladies, proud carriers of the Le Pen surname and ideology, make him proud by befriending Donald Trump, the two Brexit architects UKIP’s Nigel Farage and now UK’s Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson, Geert Wilders of the ‘Dutch Freedom Party’ and right-wing populist across the West. They are anti-Europe, anti-immigrants, anti-Islam, anti-media, anti-eastern-Europeans, anti-Arabs, anti-Africans and anti-Chinese. They are essentially: anti-everything and everyone except themselves, namely: White, Male, Christians, minus anyone from Poland, Bulgaria, Romania, God forbid Russia and Turkey.
Marine Le Pen’s partisans: the ‘Frontists’ refer to themselves as ‘Les Francais de souche’ – the French of the core. But their real name is ‘Neo-Fascists’. Their slogan is identical with their counterparts across the world: ‘Us’ First! in lieu of ‘Us’, fill in any country you want: ‘America First’, ‘Britain First’, ‘France First’, you name it. Their politics aren’t far remote from Hitler’s National Socialism and Mussolini’s National Fascist Part. I would have called them just Fascist, but sometimes they tolerate Jews, sometimes not. In fact, ‘FN’ means literally that: NAZI!
So the French will vote for the NAZI; well, at least in the first round of which, all polls concur, their President Le Pen is assured given her ever-mounting popularity. In the second round, she’s likely to meet Mr. Emanuel Macron.
Who is he? Emanuel Macron is a thirty nine year old investment banker at Rothschild, a banking empire established all over Europe. He was totally unknown to the French public opinion until outgoing Francois Hollande named him Minister of Economy just under two years. Running independently, well, bankrolled by hefty bankers, Macron has the right profile as an outsider to the rotten political establishment and the right credentials due to his education at the prestigious ‘Ecole Nationale d’Administration’ (ENA), where all French presidents were educated except Mr. Nicolas Sarkozy.
Where is Sarko, as his sympathizers call him? He lost the primaries of (LR) to Mr. Fillon, alongside seventy-two year old Alain Juppé, former minister of Foreign Affairs during the Genocide against the Tutsi. Needless to clarify that all three - afore mentioned - musketeers have now been indicted for embezzlement of public funds. A onetime polls’ favorite and the only convict so far, Mr. Juppé just turned down an ultimate call for a comeback, fearing likely exposure of old skeletons in his closet. Rwandans had switched-off from French elections after their sworn enemy Mr. Juppé, and their somewhat friend Mr. Sarkozy were both out of business.
As for the incumbent Mr. Hollande, henceforth to be known as ‘the most unpopular president in recent French history’ with 26% approval ratings, he refrained from seeking another term, stepping aside for his then Prime Minister Mr. Emmanuel Valls, who too lost to another underdog Mr. Benoît Hamon. Since his surprise win of the primaries, the man seems shocked as to how he got there and what he should do now. Well, aren’t we all Monsieur Hamond, aren’t we all…
So until recently, we’d thought Mr. Fillon would be facing-off Madame Marine Le Pen in the second and last round. Then everyone would rally behind the lesser evil, namely Mr. Fillon, just like in 2002 when visibly disgusted voters wearing gloves, gas masks and disinfectants backed Mr. Jacques Chirac with a staggering 83% of votes, just to keep far-right leader Jean-Marie Le Pen out.
In a stunning twist, Le Canard enchaîné a satirical newspaper in France, known to expose breathtaking scandals with every weekly edition, revealed that Mr. Fillon had, hold your breath, kept his wife and children on the French parliament’s pay role, without even having them work for him. When asked what he has to say for himself Mr. Fillon seemed honestly baffled: ‘We all do it, what is the matter?’ referring to the entire French parliament; ‘this is a political assassination - he maintained, unconvincingly. Before the public could digest that the satirical weekly had another go at him, this time revealing that his wife had received undue payment from one ‘Le Journal du monde’; that Mr. Fillon himself had received an undeclared loan from the same, etc., dispensing the scandals on the drip, week after week, for a perfectly thought-out political soap-opera.
In all these happenings, Germans are sitting tight, not ready to let go of their boon Angela Merkel just yet. As the Globe and Mail reported, ‘in the current political environment in Europe, there was no other way for the daughter of a Protestant pastor raised in [East Germany] but to run [for a fourth term] as German Chancellor’.
So the moral of the story for Africans is that this should be a turning point. Amilcar Cabral predicted class suicide, Karl Marx predicted an up-rise of the working class. None of them could have predicted Western hegemonic suicide. Africa shouldn’t miss this opportunity to reinvent itself. For that we’ll have to look beyond the West - or the East! The end of Western hegemony shouldn’t signify the beginning of Eastern dominion.
Let’s go back to the drawing board: We must affranchise our minds from dysfunctional alien dogmas and apply the best fit, rather than the best practice. We must harness our diversity and experience to foster a tolerant and compassionate society. In Rwanda we are trying out something new: consensual, pragmatic, developmental politics. Progressive, contextual and permeable to all ideologies - except division. It is up to us to theorize it, codify an adaptable aide-memoire that can be borrowed upon request by other nations.