The 2022 French presidential elections

Renaming the Department's French presidential election seminar after Professor Robert Elgie

On 31st March 2022, the Department of Government and Politics in UCC organised its fifth seminar on the French presidential election. On the previous four occasions, Professor Robert Elgie had been the keynote speaker and analysed the French political system’s development. To celebrate Professor Elgie, the seminar was renamed in his name by Professor John Cryan, Vice President for Research and Innovation, who had been inducted into the Royal Irish Academy on the same day as Robert.

The two-hour seminar, kindly supported by the PSAI, included three presentations. Dr Elodie Fabre form Queen’s Belfast University started by giving her analysis of the French party system from 2017 to 2022. She described it as a party system in flux. She argued that there appears to be two separate political arenas, a national one and a local/European one and political parties perform quite differently depending on the arena under scrutiny.

The second speaker, Dr Donál Hassett, from the French Department in UCC, delivered his analysis of the ‘droitisation’ of French political life, one of the defining features of French political life in the last 20 years and its repercussions in the 2022 presidential election. Roughly translated as the shift to the right, the concept initially referred to the efforts of politicians, primarily but not exclusively on the centre-right of the political spectrum, to triangulate with the Front National by coopting some of the movement’s rhetoric and even their policies. A key feature that has accelerated this process in more recent years is the rise of a hard right media. However the cost of living, healthcare and climate change consistently poll ahead of immigration and security as the most pressing issues.

Dr Emmanuelle Schön-Quinlivan concluded the evening by reviewing the ways in which Europe can be seen as a structuring theme of the 2022 campaign. Whereas in 2017, it was at the centre of all manifestos with Mélenchon and LePen having plans to leave the Eurozone and/or the EU and Macron placing European sovereignty at the heart of its campaign. In 2022, Europe is nowhere and everywhere, particularly due to the war in Ukraine but also due to France’s Presidency of the Council of the EU.

The seminar was closed with Professor Gary Murphy sharing a few words on his dear friend and colleague, Professor Robert Elgie, without whom this UCC seminar would not exist.

This webinar,  organised by the IIEA, Dublin, explores the context and potential implications of the 2022 French Presidential elections, with the first round scheduled to take place on 10 April 2022, and what this may mean for the future of France, Ireland, and the EU. Dr. Emmanuelle Schon-Quinlivan explores the EU level implications of the election, and Lara Marlowe discusses the impact that the election may have on internal political dynamics in France.

Department of Government & Politics

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