After the De Gaulle year, the Mitterrand year arrives. The current tenant of the Elysee, Emmanuel Macron, paid tribute to his socialist predecessor, François Mitterrand, on Friday on the 25th anniversary of his death. It is the first time that Macron has traveled to Jarnac, Mitterrand’s hometown, to participate in a ceremony attended by the country’s main socialist leaders every year. A gesture denounced by some as an alleged wink to the left in this pre-election year – the presidential ones will take place in 2022 – that the Elysee dismisses. At the end of the day, the French presidency alleges, in 2021 several round dates of the socialist’s mandate are fulfilled and it is the president’s job to honor those who occupied the head of state before him.
It is true that if 2020 was the year of Charles de Gaulle – in the past 12 months the 80th anniversary of the call to resist the Nazi invasion of June 18, 1940, the 50th anniversary of his death and the 130th of his birth was commemorated – This 2021 that is now beginning can be called, in its own right, the Mitterrand year. Not only does this Friday commemorate a quarter of a century of his death. Furthermore, May 10 marks the 40th anniversary of Mitterrand’s electoral victory and, therefore, the rise for the first time of the Socialist Party to the Elysee in the Fifth Republic. And October 9 will mark the 40th anniversary of the abolition of the death penalty in France, in the first government of the president who has remained on the Elysee for the longest (1981-1995).
“25 years after his death, the legacy of President François Mitterrand lives on. His two seven-year periods continue to irrigate our collective history, ”Macron said on Twitter shortly before the ceremony held at the Jarnac cemetery, in western France, where he coincided with his predecessor, François Hollande, and other historical socialist leaders, as well as with the current head of their ranks, Olivier Faure.
Subsequently, the French president visited Mitterrand’s birthplace, according to an agenda prepared so as not to coincide – except in the cemetery – with the Socialist leaders, who made the reverse journey. Some accuse him of seeking legitimacy mitterrandiana with an electoral view, after having listed his policies further to the right in recent times, according to his critics.
“He does it to redirect his five-year period, which has drifted to the right,” he told The world Ségolène Royal, former Socialist presidential candidate and Minister of the Environment in the previous Socialist government of François Hollande, who in the early days nonetheless supported Macron. What has of mitterrandiano Macron? Hollande was asked the day before in an interview. “Being president,” replied his former mentor, now one of the most critical of his successor, who in turn claims heir to Mitterrand’s Europeanism. He was “one of the first to see in the European construction a guarantee of stability and peace for the continent,” Macron recalled this Friday.
“The republic is transmission, the president is the depositary of the legacy of his predecessors,” defended on the eve of the tribute a source from the Elysee, who rejects any electoral intention in this type of tribute. “It is up to the acting president, whoever he is, to evoke the figures of previous presidents on these types of occasions (…) to participate in the construction of a common memory shared by all French people,” he defended.
It is not Macron’s fault, the sources insist, that he has had to pay so many tributes to so many of his predecessors: in addition to the round dates as in the case of De Gaulle, in recent years two former presidents have died, Jacques Chirac in 2019 and Valéry Giscard d’Estaing, last December.
Despite everything, the electoral shadow is there. The PS, which suffered the worst defeat in its history in 2017, has yet to find a candidate – preferably an agglutination of the left, although that seems increasingly difficult – for 2022. Although that is the main advantage of Macron, that He arrived at the Elysee with significant support from the left-wing electorate disenchanted with the traditional parties, however, he has to once again attract those voters after policies of conservative winks that have even led to desertions from the most left wing of his party.
Eddie is an Australian news reporter with over 9 years in the industry and has published on Forbes and tech crunch.