European Topics in a Campaign – the French Example

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Europe Ecologie 2009 – How to win elections on two impossible grounds

Contents
1. A difficult context
2. The two challenges: speaking about ‘Europe’ and ‘Ecology’
3. A coherent and global message
4. Credibility
[Print version of the entire article]

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French European ElectionsDifficult context
With three years to go before the major event that conditions and regulates French political life, i.e. the Presidential election, almost all political factions hoped this campaign might serve as a test run for 2012. In addition, despite a slight rise in the opinion polls following his proactive and relatively well-perceived Presidency of the EU (July-December 2008), the style and action of President Sarkozy were already being fiercely contested – anti-Sarkozysm had become something of a national sport and an obligatory feature of the elections. In a public sphere laden with this atmosphere of controversy, where party leaders figured more prominently than the candidates themselves, this campaign came to resemble a referendum on the French President. Debates revealed that Sarkozy was obsessed with himself, the Socialist Party and François Bayrou’s MoDem (Mouvement Démocrate) obsessed with Sarkozy, the radical left and the far right obsessed with the Lisbon Treaty… ultimately, only Europe-Ecologie was able to deliver a truly political message: ‘The response to this brutal and terrible crisis that we are experiencing can be summed up in two words: “Europe, Ecology”’. [Europe-Ecologie’s manifesto can be found here.]

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