The result of the first round of the French presidential elections was viewed by the systemic forces of the European Union – political and other – as the manifestation of a major political deviation. The possibility of electing Marine Le Pen to the presidency of France next Sunday is seen as an abominable possibility that directly threatens the European edifice.
But if the future of the EU is at stake simply because a large country like France might elect as its leader for the next five years a candidate driven by nationalistic or patriotic sentiments, then it is almost certain that something has gone wrong in the calculations of those working on the unification of Europe.
This is certainly not the first time that a major incident of “disobedience” has been expressed within the Union. On May 29, 2005, during the presidency of Jacques Chirac, 54% of French people rejected the so-called European Constitution. Three days later, the Dutch rejected it with a percentage of 61.6%. These warnings were not taken seriously, some modifications were made and finally, after two new referendums, the “Constitution” was approved. Those were the years of carefree optimism, but conditions today are different.
From the first reactions of EU leaders, starting with French President Emmanuel Macron, the impression is that the idea of an informal “apartheid” is projected – at least at the level of political communication. In this context, a distinction is made between those citizens who make up the class of “enlightened Europeans,” who are focused on the future, and the rival group of the conservative masses, who remain persistently attached to the past – potential victims of all kinds of “populists.”
The first visionaries of the European unification and homogenization of European citizens – as well as their successors – were drawn to the idea of applying in Europe the American “model” of forming a single political entity. The difference, however, is fundamental. The US population is made up of people who have fled their countries to escape misery and various persecutions – political or religious.
On the contrary, the EU was made up of nation-states with centuries of different history and traditions. They want to preserve their diversity and react to homogenization. The difference is crucial, and the danger of being led from the “yellow vests” protests to roadblocks is clear.