How democratic are the French elections?

There are just 59 days to go until voters turn out for the first round of the French presidential election and it is not even clear who will make the starting gate. For now, all the pundits and the bookies are predicting the re-election of President Emmanuel Macron. But the real story is about how French democracy operates. General de Gaulle designed the Fifth Republic to keep extremists out of the Elysée. So, to get into the presidential election, a candidate must present the Conseil Constitutionnelle with 500 sponsorships (parrainages) from geographically dispersed senior elected officials. The real story is about how French democracy operates Previously this was not a problem.

Le Pen, Zemmour and the two French far rights

Just about two months ahead of the French elections, a first poll for Le Parisién suggests that Marine Le Pen and Eric Zemmour are at the same level: 14 per cent. This is one out of many polls, most of which still show Le Pen ahead. But polls have been bad predictors in the past, and they can create their own momentum. Both Le Pen and Zemmour held big rallies this weekend. We now see two different economic visions emerging: one social, one liberal. The only economic point that the two have in common is that they both want social services to be accessible only to the French, not to

Why has London’s Royal Institution cancelled Eric Zemmour?

On Friday night, the insurgent but still undeclared French presidential candidate Eric Zemmour was to address 600 of his supporters, the merely curious, and the media, in a ‘rendezvous’ at the Royal Institution in Mayfair. No prizes for guessing that the RI, a quintessential institution of the enlightenment prizing reason and inquiry above all, has now terminated the booking after performing ‘due diligence’ and discovering that the rightist Zemmour is not their sort. A spokesman for the RI declined to explain the reason why the London Friends of Zemmour were suddenly considered unsuitable to rent its magnificent theatre on Albemarle Street. Or why Zemmour himself might be unsuitable to speak

Macronism is dead

President Emmanuel Macron was in an expansive mood this week as he presented his vision for France 2030 from the Elysée palace before an audience of business leaders and students. Macron is incapable of brevity. In a slick production that must have cost a fortune, presented to a fawning hand-picked audience, he spoke for two hours. His elocution was framed by a slick, Tik-Tokish video recalling the 30 glorious years of French economic growth and grand projects after the war. Macron is nothing if not busy. He’s just been on a series of pre-election grand tours, dispensing billions of euros in promises like confetti. That includes a proposed repair of