In the current situation, abstention is a denial of democracy and a culpable abandonment of responsibility.
In a tense climate where the majority of voters are torn between “rejection” and “refusal”, it is very tempting to give one’s preference to go fishing!
Those who choose to abstain, however they express it – blank vote, neither-nor or abstention – are cowards. They knowingly abandon to their compatriots the privilege, dearly acquired by our elders, sometimes at the price of heavy sacrifices, of determining who will govern France for the next five years.
If the result of the poll did not have such existential consequences for the Nation, involving the challenging of fundamental rights enshrined in the Constitution, of democracy itself or of effects likely to make the country ungovernable and to degenerate into social conflicts, if not civil war, one could accept that the citizen takes refuge in abstention, on the understanding that, in doing so, he accepts – as a lesser evil – the democratic victory of one of the two candidates in the running.
However, in this case, the 2022 election (like those of 2002 and 2017) does not meet this prerequisite, which is supposed to preserve the rule of law and, in particular, to ensure that any modification of the laws and/or of the powers conferred by delegation of the legislator to the authorities, are implemented in compliance with the procedures and formalities provided for by the Constitution.
In fact, Mrs. Le Pen’s program includes several proposals which – directly or indirectly – are incompatible either with the Constitution (inequality of taxation applied to citizens – a general prohibition of the wearing of a veil in the public space), or with the respect of commitments subscribed by France within the framework of international treaties (Treaty of the European Union – Convention of Human Rights).
In the case of the incompatibility with the TEU, it is nothing less than a huge act of deception since Mrs. Le Pen presents herself as having changed her mind since 2017; she would have allegedly become a supporter of the € and the European Union (albeit of a “different Europe” named “of inter-state cooperation“). If, in the name of freedom of expression, this position can be defended in principle, it should, at least, be assumed with all its consequences and be presented as such to the voter. She should therefore propose – as the British government did – to initiate negotiations in order to obtain the concessions she considers indispensable for the preservation of French sovereignty. These include, among other matters, the re-establishment of internal border controls with neighboring Member States, a renegotiation of the French contribution to the EU budget, the possibility of introducing a ‘national preference’, etc., demands that would need amendments to the TEU that would not have le slightest chance of obtaining the required unanimity.
If the negotiations failed (as expected), the option of a “Frexit”, in accordance with Art.50 TEU, would then be the subject of a referendum. Unlike Brexit, however, France’s withdrawal – being key Member of the Eurozone – would inevitably lead to the dismantling of the Single Currency (and of the EU). Also, such a prospect would lead France into an inflationary spiral and a return to an era of successive “devaluations”, if not outright default; indeed, the State’s €3 trillion debt – contracted in € – would then (like that of the private sector) have to be serviced and repaid in equivalent amounts of foreign currencies rather than in the new national monetary units. There is no need to detail the inevitable disastrous consequences on the “purchasing power” of the working classes, whose protector Madame Le Pen boasts to be. Taking place in the midst of a monumental financial crisis affecting all the world’s financial markets provoked by the dismantling of the €, it would partially hide the causes from the French. Such an environment would also be conducive to the establishment of a state of emergency and the implementation of an “illiberal” regime to which the candidate aspires.
I shall not dwell on the more dubious “political” aspects of Mrs. Le Pen’s foreign policy leanings (relations with Russia, Ukraine, NATO, immigration, etc.) which are based on opinions – certainly admissible – but which a majority of citizens are likely to consider disastrous for the country’s future and its capacity to wield influence on the European and World scene.
Faced with its dramatic consequences, citizens have the duty to avoid the election of Mrs. Le Pen. Abstention therefore becomes complicit by default in the realization of a nightmare written in advance. It cannot be justified by the absence on the ballot of a candidate who meets the voter’s preferences. The election of Emmanuel Macron is perfectly legitimate in the current institutional framework; it must be considered as the expression of the democratically expressed will of a majority of voters even if this majority is rendered artificial by the current two-round electoral system.
Indeed, the support by adhesion to E. Macron is closer to his score in the first round of the election (27.7%), which should oblige him; it is up to him to avoid the mistakes of President Chirac after his election with more than 80% of the votes in 2002 and – as he committed himself during his campaign – to take initiatives to associate more closely to the decision-making process of his future administration, a majority of those who supported him in order to avoid plunging France into chaos.
At the time of writing, the re-election of the outgoing President is far from being assured; it could be “abstentionists” who hold the key to the election. They would be the first victims of their unconsciousness in the event of a victory of the far-right candidate.
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