Student - April 20, 2017

Meanwhile in... France

Text:
Teun Fiers

‘This election will bring real changes for France’
French citizens will be voting for their new president on 23 April. It is likely that, for the first time in history of the Republic, neither the Socialists nor the Republicans will reach the second voting round. Matthieu Chastel thinks these elections will be a crucial moment in history.

Photos: Shutterstock & Guillaume Destombes

‘I think these elections are special for several reasons. Firstly, it is highly unusual that five candidates have a reasonable chance of winning. The Front National has never been this popular in the polls shortly before the elections, and the candidates Macron and Mélenchon are making good progress without the strong support of a political party.

Secondly, there are already debates between candidates before the first round, when there used only to be personal interviews and reporting. This encourages candidates to put forward not only ideas but also clear solutions and actual policies. I think that is really impressive.

Lastly, but perhaps most importantly, the French constitution itself is questioned by most of the candidates. They are calling for reforms allowing better citizen representation. This is why

I believe our country will change significantly after these elections

Personally, I have a lot of sympathy for Mélenchon. He is doing more than anyone else to make our country sustainable and he advocates establishing world peace through international diplomacy rather than military intervention. Both these points deserve more attention. Another important point is constitutional reform, which would reduce the government's power and increase citizen participation. I think the French are ready for that. What's more, Mélenchon wants to steer the European Union towards a fairer and more democratic system. These are the long-term changes that we need now.

Actually, now that I am telling you this, I realise that I need to hurry to the consulate in Amsterdam to vote. Hopefully I can get there in time, so I can contribute to the change.’

Matthieu Chastel, a Master’s student of Forest and Nature Conservation from France, provides context to the presidential elections.
Matthieu Chastel, a Master’s student of Forest and Nature Conservation from France, provides context to the presidential elections.