Ben McPartland is joined by Local France editor Emma Pearson, reporter Sam Bradpiece and columnist John Lichfield to talk about the latest from the French election trail – from the behaviour of former presidents to what the candidates have planned for foreign residents in France and the likelihood of an election shock in the second round.
Legal academic Rim-Sarah Alouane, of Toulouse-Capitole university, a specialist in religious freedom and civil liberties, explains what the French concept of laïcité (secularism) actually is, how it has changed and become weaponsised in the political discourse and what this means for Emmanuel Macron.
You can find the podcast HERE, or on Spotify or Apple, or listen on the link below.
Rim-Sarah told us: “We have witnessed in recent years a weaponisation of laïcité, itbe came a tool for political identity and to erase religious visibility from the public, and especially Islam.
“In 2017 when Macron won, he was one of the very few candidates who didn’t run his campaign on identity issues.
“But since then we have had a double discourse – between Macron speaking to the international community about equality and laïcité, but then you have many of his ministers who are saying the opposite – for example calling for the banning of the Muslim headscarf or saying that having a halal food aisle in the supermarket is’ shocking’.”
Asked if there was a chance a for a dramatic twist in the campaign John Lichfield says: “There is a sense that it’s a done deal and there isn’t any great enthusiasm for any of the candidates, even for Macron . . . It’s been a strange campaign and therefore strange things can happen.”
The team is also looking at ‘election merch’ each party is selling – from slogan T-shirts to frisbees and condoms – and explaining some French phrases that you’ll hear at election time.
You can find all previous episodes of Talking France HERE, and we’ll be releasing new ones every week until after the elections.