European Topics in a Campaign – the French Example

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Make sense
The other lesson that can be learned from this joyous and victorious campaign is that, in an age of spin-doctors and political marketing, of simplification and demagogy, it is still possible to convey a different political message, one that is coherent and comprehensive.

The message was coherent, firstly, because it successfully linked together the different levels of the ecologist society project:
– At the territorial level, the idea is that most local or national problems need to be viewed and understood as part of broader issues and require, therefore, global solutions, particularly at the European level. An obvious example: linking the rising distress in rural areas and the difficulties facing French agriculture to issues at the heart of the future CAP reform.
– On a temporal level, the argument is that present troubles must be addressed through fundamental changes that prepare for the future, preserve resources, and enable society to escape the otherwise inevitable economic and social crises. For example, addressing the social troubles resulting from the economic crisis in the automotive industry through the immediate restructuring of this key French and European economic sector, which is in any case threatened in the medium term by the ‘oil peak’. In other words: transform the crisis into an opportunity, protecting today to change tomorrow, and changing today to protect tomorrow.

The message was comprehensive, also, because it involved moving beyond the prevailing perception of French ecologists as ‘environmentalists’ whose proposals could be absorbed by any political party (the implication being that a party dedicated solely to the protection of the environment was not justified). This campaign was effective because it convinced the French people that, although the environment is indeed a matter for everyone, ecology is an original and comprehensive political project, which deals with all aspects of society. In short, ‘ecology’ means as much ‘people’ as it does ‘nature’. As the economic crisis and unemployment started to grip France and Europe, the link between the exploitation and exhaustion of natural and human resources became all the more apparent to the electorate.

In a sense, the crisis was, paradoxically, more of a help than a hindrance in conveying the message of the ecological transformation of society.

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