Impressions from the hemicycle of the European Parliament

Logo-ADLE-DEFdeDEF_1_01In Strasbourg, I felt pained for France and for Europe. In just a few days, two French female politicians, two members of the European Parliament, have sullied our country.

In both cases, the downward spiral was similar. Masquerading as fondness for la France, an eternal and abstract notion, short-sighted words of division and hate were spoken, which go against our national tradition: by Nadine Morano, against those whose skin is not pale enough for her liking, and by Marine Le Pen, against the President of the French Republic and the German Chancellor.

The attack on the French head of state exposes the “patriotic” discourse of the National Front (FN) for what it is: a con, and a swindle. True patriots are fond of their country. They do not pour scorn upon the President of the Republic, cornerstone of our institutions, guarantor of national unity. True patriots do not denigrate the head of government of a democracy which is France’s partner. The bravado has become intolerable: no state can live in autarky, without building relationships with international partners. Our security, jobs and the defence of our values depend on it. At this level, aggression is just a form of amateurishness.

And when it comes to championing the purity of the white race, she is very far away from the concept of the nation enshrined in the constitution of 1958.

How did it come to this? For many reasons this question cannot be fully analysed in this short article. But one is certainly a refusal to see that political action no longer takes place at just the national level. Technological developments, increased interdependence, as evidenced by migration or climate problems, require us to work on a larger scale, to create a European democracy that can contribute to better global governance. By refusing to admit this, by always prudently smothering any European ambition, moderate leaders are killing the very ideal that they claim to support. In this respect, the words of François Hollande and Angela Merkel were no exception to the rule: they had the right intentions, but there wasn’t enough drive, or a specific schedule. The Franco-German engine has run out of steam. It is unrealistic to claim that a union of the European peoples can be achieved without altering our customs or undertaking a large-scale overhaul. When the President stopped reading his sterile speech and instead responded firmly to the eurosceptics, he finally found the right tone.

Hesitation feeds the empty space which demagogues then fill. They encourage the media to process information based on anecdotes rather than the actual facts. When you compare the debate in the hemicycle with the reports in the press or on certain radio stations, the problem is plain to see. There is an impasse, a pause between Angela Merkel’s speech and that of Ms Le Pen. The editorial boards in Paris did not think it necessary to pay the slightest attention to the seven (yes, seven) speakers of different political persuasions, who successively responded to both the President and the Chancellor. Yet conservatives, socialists, liberals, greens and others represent the vast majority of the 500 million European citizens! The platform which was given to Marine Le Pen and her outbursts is completely out of touch with reality. After the Congo debacle by Nadine Morano, we were subjected to Marine in the circus (clown and gladiator combined).

A collective fascination for provocation, lack of culture and bad upbringing is gripping the French people, to the detriment of key issues. The blonde exterior conceals violence, hate and ultimately the downgrading of our country. I dread to think what Mrs Merkel thought of the spectacle that these French women made for all Europe to see.


Sylvie Goulard, Member of European Parliament, ALDE