For the first time in 17 years the “left” is back in power. France’s new President, François Hollande, is from the Socialist Party, having handily defeated the incumbent Nicolas Sarkozy. Two other candidates, Marine Le Pen, from the rightist National Front and Jean-Luc Mélanchon, the far-left candidate, helped draw votes away from Sarkozy.
Many reasons could be cited for this change. Among them are a general frustration with the program of “austerity” promulgated by the now defeated UMP (Union pour un Mouvement Populaire). Another is the return of populism to French culture, something that appeared to be closer to Hollande’s style than his rival’s. Sarkozy had stressed tightening up on immigration, which was appealing for a while to those who worry about the considerable Muslim presence in France, but is now less of a front-burner item.
At the deepest level, though, France is simply experiencing the same kind of frustration found in Greece, Italy, Spain, and many other European countries, with the possible exception of Germany. The root of that frustration is a kind of ennui, which translates into a certain hopelessness. Into that context comes a fresh voice, one which is vague enough to be interpreted as hopeful. To be sure, Hollande has pledged various changes, such as creating “Eurobonds” for infrastructure projects, raising money through financial transactions rather than taxes, creating more jobs through the European Investment Bank. Unlike some of his fellow Socialists, he is pro-Europe. But when the reality sets in, which it always does, he may find himself in the position of many who have made such promises, and bumped up against the wall of uncontrollable economic factors.
Not to sound simplistic, for the situation is indeed very complex, but in order truly to foster hope, yet another voice is needed. I am referring to the Good News of the Gospel. There are signs, as we speak, of the intrusion of the light of Christ into France in particular, and Europe in general. One of those points of light is surely our Seminary in Aix-en-Provence. While the older faculty is moving on, younger, very capable professors are being hired. One of them is the new holder of the Boice Chair, Jean-Philippe Bru. More about him in the next newsletter. Thanks for all your prayers and support.
Very Truly Yours,
William Edgar, President