En a time when ideas or projects for institutional reforms that are supposed to respond to the aspirations of the French people are flourishing, isn’t the first priority to seriously question these aspirations? Failure to do so would risk setting our future down a bad path. However, it is worrying to note to what extent adherence to the somewhat simplistic thesis of “sad pions” today seems to serve as the basis for many proposals – citizen participation in parallel to the exercise of popular sovereignty, the reduction in the number of parliamentarians accompanied by a proportional election, the establishment of a Supreme Court – all remedies supposed to respond to a lack of love of the French for politics.
And if the presupposition founding such ideas of reform was based on a misunderstanding? The political thing certainly disappoints the French. But what is the real cause? If many of our compatriots no longer put their faith in the parties, increasingly despise their national elected representatives, shun the ballot box, including for elections with high national stakes, are we quite certain that this is not the very fault of the political debate which engages them in this way instead of being the result of it? This is the thesis that emerges from the latest work by Stéphane Rozès (Chaos. Essay on the imaginations of peoples, interviews with Arnaud BenedettiCerf, 2022), a particularly fine analyst of what makes the“imaginary” of the French, this unspoken substratum of explicit opinions.
Isn’t it indeed the attack on the national imaginary which creates the disavowal of the policy? According to Rozès, his representations are made up of a search for verticality capable of getting us out of the “dispute”. The institutions of the Ve Republic had, this explains their success, understood and tried to resolve this apparent contradiction between the search for support for the common project and the taste for quarrelsome debate.
Is it by chance that the Presidents of the Republic whom the French, with hindsight, regard as the greatest, General de Gaulle and François Mitterrand, happened to be one of the bearers of the verticality of the nation state, the other aware that the French “this Gaul, this quarrelsome Celt” asked that his taste for permanent dispute be translated into a cohabitation which after all civilized the latter? This without preventing the necessary overhang of the presidential function.
It was in breach of this balance that the five-year term arose in 2002, the result of which we can see today, with the disappearance of the conciliation hitherto ensured between the need for “dispute” and its overcoming towards the common project. . Is it any wonder then that the French, since then deprived of the bases of their collective imagination, are increasingly turning away from “politics” – which cannot be confused with “politics”, this national pion which find more outlets?
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