In France the President is the head of State but day to day governance is carried out by the prime minister who could or could not be from the President’s party
Victor C. Ariole
“I believe countries should not be run with laws and decrees, it is completely outdated (…) modern politics is about striking deals.” –Ségolène Royal in FT
Modern politics is what seems to be going on in the Netherlands where mercantilist capitalism reigned in the times of the Vikings. Almost all the prisons in the Netherlands are no more for lack of anyone to be imprisoned as people find their different levels of self-fulfillment, work and recreation inclusive, without much worry. It is a country that observes in Toto neither parliamentary nor monarchical nor presidential system of governance; and Nigeria, still distracting itself with processes as if it has not been observed that in both parliamentary of Tafawa Balewa or presidential of Shehu Shagari personalities in form of cabals or masquerades distracting the institutions, remains adamant in shying away from real problems of making its populace reap the benefit of good governance.
For Segolene Royal it is the reason why France is facing currently the wave of protest of the gilet jaunes (yellow vests) as Macron’s Republic en Marche (On the Move) is turning to en Marche arriere (On the retreat). Deals were struck with the rich abolishing taxes on wealth but imposed taxes on fuel consumption and levies on pensioners.
Like Macron who came to power using mostly social media for his mobilization process, the yellow vests people are also social media mobilized without known leader. To Anne-Sylvaine they are leaderless. They are asking to be treated like the rich who have returned to France after Socialist party of Hollande so much taxed them that they relocated to places like the Netherlands and Luxembourg. For Segolene it is because Macron is ruling with “unelected experts who get picked up by their drivers in the morning to go to their ministries, spend their weekends in their county houses.”
This is where Nigeria ought to learn quickly some lessons about how personalities even in high developed democracy can come in with an approach that could be disturbing but could still remain focused to accomplish a great deal of reform and changes that can move the country forward not necessarily jumping from one form of government to another or even ever rehashing uncoordinated stances on restructuring.
In France the President is the head of State not ceremonial but the day to day governance is carried out by the prime minister who could or could not be from the President’s party depending on how parties control the parliament and who among the majority the President chooses to head a government. Sometimes it is noted as co-habitation government, not British type of coalition any way.
Segolene is worried about the Macron’s testosterone exhibition as seen in all the men that rule France as she tried to change it and suffered marginal defeat in the hands of Sarkozy, even after being told that she needed to go and care for the children when she wrestled the presidential candidacy from the men including his own Francois Hollande father of his four children as unmarried partners. She had proposed governing on striking deals with the rich and those who just want to work and remain fulfilled without being overburdened with laws that indicate tax directions. Netherland was once a country of that nature where wealth and law governing acquisition and abandonment of wealth reigned.
Today, it is different as measures are taken to protect wealthy people as well as those work to sustain such wealth. Indeed it is the trend of modern politics, fortifying individual and collective wealth even if human capital to do that must come from outside the country and must be respected.
General Charles de Gaulle their hero knew that as he made effort to link France’s collective wealth to great investments in other continents where France had local governments like in Reunion – Africa, New Caledonia – Pacific, Guadeloupe and Martinique – Americas and other “territoires d’outremer”. George Pompidou did the same as well as Giscard d’Estaing who was misunderstood and labelled corrupt as he tried to woo African leaders in buying into a greater France as a better prospect of gradual globalization.
He had wanted a greater cooperation with sub-saharan African as against Sarkozy’s, also, alleged corrupt intent by focusing on what he can get from Gaddafi for further expansion to the Maghreb and Marrakech in the name of uniting Europe with the Mediterranean countries for a greater Europe or France. He also failed living France to see Francois Mitterrand who ruled for 14years with different cohabitation parties as a better alternative as Jacques Chirac and Sarkozy couldn’t agree on how best to move France forward in their different tenures as President.
In effect, institutions notwithstanding, personalities had made or marred France in its quest to keep its ever expanding heterogeneous people from all the continents forging ahead as a united and prosperous France. Macron seems to be driving them to a 6th republic as de Gaulle did leading to the 5th republic when the issues of colony was about tearing them apart. Now it is youth restiveness as values seem to be diverging and not converging either to Eurocentric, Gaulicentric or even Globacentric. Extremism cannot solve the problem as Segolene forsees and remains abhorrent to what Boris Johnson did in instigating Brexit in Britain. It must be striking deals with all the contending values in France especially the bubbling youths that want to work and not to be burdened with tax. Everywhere you travel to in the Americas you see French Youths striving to work, that is, do any work. Those I encountered expressed optimism that it will be well with France but not now hence they needed to see how they can occupy themselves making families as they wait for the good times to come. Indeed it is youth explosion and how to manage it.
Translating that to Nigeria and Africa at large, governance is becoming more of youth management and providing jobs that could occupy the youths while those who intend to be living on their acquired wealth are made to invest more for the youths to busy themselves on. And France must see Africa, where about 30 of the 54 countries carry out their official duties in French and I mean even the Lusophones and the hispanophones like Guinea Bissau and Equatorial Guinea respectively.
The Abidjan bourse testifies to that. So, Macron’s Republique en Marche must live to its campaign rhetoric and come to Africa for a reenactment of the Gaullist spirit of ‘with Africa une republique indivisible en marche’ Collaborating with Africa France will never be let down and a better alternative to predatory current predatory of Africa as expressed by Trump will cease.
Ariole is Professor of French and Francophone Studies, UNILAG