Giuseppe Sandro Mela.
Il ventitre aprile si terrà in Francia la prima tornata per le elezioni del Presidente della Repubblica.
L’undici ed il diciotto giugno 2017 si terranno invece le elezioni per l’Assemblea Nazionale.
Cambierà radicalmente il Governo Francese, ma con esso siederà in Consigli Europeo una persona diversa da Mr Hollande.
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La grande fortuna, per i credenti Grazia divina, gli odiatori e detrattori cronici della Chiesa non la conoscono: ne vedono e ne colpiscono solo alcuni aspetti mondani che, tra l’altro, sono tutto fuorché Chiesa.
Il risultato è sequenziale. Pur essendo stata perseguitata in tutti i suoi duemila anni di storia, nessuno dei suoi persecutori è mai riuscito ad annientarla. Ci hanno provato gli ariani ed i longobardi, via via fino a sovietici. Ma anche in questo caso, nonostante settanta anni di sterminio programmato, il Presidente della Federazione Russa adesso va a baciare l’anello del Patriarca di Mosca.
I socialisti europei ci hanno provato, ed alla grande. Ma ora si stanno disgregando come neve al sole.
La Francia, laica e massonica fino al midollo osseo, quella del genocidio vandeano, si trova adesso, con stupore profondo delle persone superficiali, a dover constatare che non aveva per nulla distrutto la Chiesa. Anzi, che il voto dei cattolici è diventato determinante per le elezioni presidenziali. Se lo sono ritrovati dall’oggi al domani, come un coniglio uscito dal cilindro del prestigiatore.
Ci si pensi su bene: il retaggio religioso, storico, culturale e sociale di un popolo non è acqua minerale. Non lo si oltraggia impunemente.
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«François Fillon’s abrupt surge from also-ran to hot favourite for the French presidency has cast a spotlight on the role played by Catholic voters and hardline activists in designating a conservative candidate for the Elysée Palace.»
«Analysts scrambling to explain such a dramatic upturn have pointed to a number of factors, including Fillon’s strong performances in televised debates, business leaders embracing his “Thatcherite” plans to slash taxes and civil servants, tactical voting by left-wingers keen to shut out Sarkozy, and Catholics coming out in droves to back his socially conservative programme.»
«Fillon, 62, achieved his highest scores in areas with a strong Catholic tradition, such as the western Vendée region, where he picked up 56 percent of the vote.»
«First, you have a small minority of intransigent, ultra-Catholics, who refuse all compromise with liberal morals and multi-culturalism»
«The second group, described as “observant Catholics”, account for roughly a third of practising Catholics. “They are attached to the Church’s views on sexuality, families and abortion, but are economically liberal,” he says, referring to an economic platform that, in France, is synonymous with pro-business policies and limited state intervention»
«The observant Catholics’ extraordinary ability to mobilise support was illustrated, and no doubt amplified, by the huge protest movement that opposed the Socialist government’s plans to extend marriage rights to same-sex couples»
«Gay marriage was passed nonetheless, but its foes soon found new battlegrounds: first fighting reproductive assistance for gay couples, and then whipping up public hysteria about the introduction of “gender theory” in school programmes»
«Sens Commun was set up in late 2013 with the stated intent of influencing party policy and weighing on the primary to designate a conservative candidate for the 2017 presidential election»
«Sens Commun may look like the decisive factor in Fillon’s success»
«Sens Commun’s champion promises to amend the law in order to ban adoptions by same-sex couples»
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Ne possiamo parlare ora abbastanza liberamente perché Sens Commun è stato scoperto dai media. Non che prima fosse un qualcosa di segreto, tutt’altro!, solo che l’establishment non lo vedeva e, quando lo vedeva, non lo capiva.
Ma Sens Commun non è mica l’unica organizzazione cattolica in campo. Le forze analoghe che operano in Germania hanno portato recentemente in piazza oltre un milione e mezzo di persone: ancora poche per la realtà tedesca, ma siamo solo agli inizi.
Coma fare a spiegare ad un ateo attivo che la più potente arma di Sens Commun è stata la preghiera?
E che Dio ha disperso i superbi nei pensieri del loro cuore.
Nessuno si faccia illusioni.
La devoluzione socialista sarà ancora lunga e dolorosa. Il periodo di transizione sarà altrettanto lungo e tumultuoso, con colpi di coda feroci: i socialisti oggi lottano per la sopravvivenza, ma hanno perso il supporto popolare.
E costruire sulle macerie lasciate dai socialisti sarà difficile, molto difficile e lungo.
In ogni caso sia ben chiaro. saranno trattati per come hanno trattato.
→ France 24. 2016-11-25. How Catholic hardliners shaped France’s race for the presidency
François Fillon’s abrupt surge from also-ran to hot favourite for the French presidency has cast a spotlight on the role played by Catholic voters and hardline activists in designating a conservative candidate for the Elysée Palace.
In a year of electoral upsets that brought pollsters on both sides of the Atlantic into unprecedented disrepute, the first round of France’s conservative primary largely confirmed the trend – albeit with an important caveat: in France the loudmouthed agitator, who had dominated headlines by playing on voters’ fears, was soundly beaten.
The corollary of Nicolas Sarkozy’s humiliating defeat was the astonishing rise of his former prime minister, François Fillon, who romped to victory with a staggering 44 percent of the ballot, 16 points clear of his nearest rival, Alain Juppé. The two go face-to-face in a run-off on Sunday, with the winner widely tipped to become the next French president.
The race to front the conservative Les Républicains party in next year’s presidential election had long been billed as a showdown between Sarkozy and the more moderate Juppé. While polls in the last two weeks of the campaign registered a sudden upswing in support for Fillon, nobody anticipated his bounce from distant third to clear frontrunner.
Analysts scrambling to explain such a dramatic upturn have pointed to a number of factors, including Fillon’s strong performances in televised debates, business leaders embracing his “Thatcherite” plans to slash taxes and civil servants, tactical voting by left-wingers keen to shut out Sarkozy, and Catholics coming out in droves to back his socially conservative programme.
Media reports have focused on the latter factor, presenting the pious, mild-mannered father of five as “the candidate of Catholic France”. They have speculated on the role played by anti-gay marriage groups such as the Manif pour tous, and its political offshoot Sens Commun, in drumming up support among Catholic voters.
France’s three Catholicisms
Studying the Catholic vote is notoriously difficult in secular France, where statistics on religious or ethnic criteria are illegal. Fillon, 62, achieved his highest scores in areas with a strong Catholic tradition, such as the western Vendée region, where he picked up 56 percent of the vote. But specialists caution against seeing the Catholic voters as a homogenous block.
“The idea that Fillon owes his victory to the Catholic vote is an illusion, because there is no such thing as a single, unified Catholic vote,” says Yann Raison du Cleuziou, an expert in Catholicism at the University of Bordeaux. “It is an illusion entertained by left-wing commentators and by groups like Sens Commun, who are keen to magnify their role in order to gain more clout among Catholics and the political right.”
Du Cleuziou says one way of looking at the Catholic vote is to break it up into three broad chapels, only one of which would “naturally” favour a candidate like Fillon.
“First, you have a small minority of intransigent, ultra-Catholics, who refuse all compromise with liberal morals and multi-culturalism,” he says. “Throughout the campaign, they have been scathing in their criticism of both Juppé, whom they mocked as a left-winger in disguise, and Fillon, whom they blasted for flip-flopping on abortion.”
The second group, described as “observant Catholics”, account for roughly a third of practising Catholics. “They are attached to the Church’s views on sexuality, families and abortion, but are economically liberal,” he says, referring to an economic platform that, in France, is synonymous with pro-business policies and limited state intervention.
“Though also a minority, this second group is highly organised and motivated, with its own publications and networks,” says du Cleuziou. “They have been outspoken and highly determined in their support for Fillon.”
The final group, a hodgepodge of moderate Catholics, some of whom lean to the centre-left, is numerically larger and more inclined to support Juppé’s consensual notion of a “happy identity”. The problem for Juppé is that they are neither as organised, nor as mobilised, as the observant Catholics who rallied behind Fillon.
Battling gay marriage
The observant Catholics’ extraordinary ability to mobilise support was illustrated, and no doubt amplified, by the huge protest movement that opposed the Socialist government’s plans to extend marriage rights to same-sex couples. As lawmakers clashed over the proposed legislation in early 2013, the Manif pour tous (Protest for all) – a pun on the government’s bill, dubbed Mariage pour tous – brought millions of protesters to the streets of Paris and other French cities.
Gay marriage was passed nonetheless, but its foes soon found new battlegrounds: first fighting reproductive assistance for gay couples, and then whipping up public hysteria about the introduction of “gender theory” in school programmes. Some activists spread rumours that teachers were encouraging boys to be girls and girls to be boys. They urged parents to keep their children at home in protest, resulting in significant levels of absenteeism.
While the Manif pour tous has since faded in importance, its success proved that a conservative agenda could drive the kind of mass popular movement that would make any trade union green with envy. Several of its members have sought to carry on the struggle in the political arena, creating offshoots such as Sens Commun, which operates within Les Républicains.
Sens Commun was set up in late 2013 with the stated intent of influencing party policy and weighing on the primary to designate a conservative candidate for the 2017 presidential election. It numbers less than 10,000 members in a party of 240,000, but intense lobbying and tactical voting have helped it seize key positions in the party’s leadership.
Sarkozy, who courted the anti-gay marriage vote upon returning to politics in 2014, was instrumental in helping Sens Commun land as many as six posts on the executive board of Les Républicains. But his subsequent about-face on the issue of gay marriage – turning back on a pledge to repeal the law – proved fatal to the former president, leading Sens Commun to back Fillon instead.
The end of ‘bling-bling’
The group’s fallout with Sarkozy mirrors his fall from grace among observant Catholics. Whether Sens Commun helped cause this demise, or merely tagged on to broader trend, is a matter of conjecture, as is the role played by Sens Commun in Fillon’s stunning first-round victory.
“Sens Commun may look like the decisive factor in Fillon’s success, but there is no way of proving this,” says du Cleuziou. “The fact is Fillon’s popularity among many Catholics is perfectly natural.”
In many ways, Fillon is a perfect antidote to the “brash, vulgar” style associated with the former “bling-bling” president, whom conservative Catholics had grown tired of, says du Cleuziou. Unlike Sarkozy, Fillon has never divorced. A father-of-five and a devout parishioner, he dedicated a whole chapter of a recent book to his Catholic faith. Somehow, he also survived a five-year stint as Sarkozy’s prime minister without being touched by any of the scandals that plagued his former boss.
“All in all, he embodies the observant Catholics’ ideal of a politician who is moderate in his conduct but harbours strong convictions,” says du Cleuziou. Such is his personal appeal that Fillon has seemingly been excused for saying he will not challenge gay marriage. Instead, Sens Commun’s champion promises to amend the law in order to ban adoptions by same-sex couples.
In announcing its support for Fillon on September 1, Sens Commun pointed to the “coherence” between their respective ideas. It gave first place to protecting “la famille”, meaning traditional family units with a father and a mother, described as “the cornerstone of all civilised societies”.
In subsequent interviews, its members praised Fillon’s repeated statements on the plight of Christian communities in Syria and Iraq, along with his proposed hard line on dealing with “Islamic totalitarianism”. The group’s president, Christophe Billan, said both Sens Commun and Fillon favoured “a state that is muscular but not obese”.
Sens Commun, which did not return FRANCE 24’s request for an interview, rarely digs any deeper when it comes to policy. Its website, and its numerous interviews and op-eds published in the right-wing press, are full of hazy talk of defending “core values” and the “common good”, and choosing “realism over ideology”.
Its “realism” explains why it supported Fillon and not Jean-Christophe Poisson, a darling of the Manif pour tous but an obscure candidate with no chance of winning the conservative primary (he mustered just 1.5 percent of the primary vote). And while Fillon’s prospects looked dim at first, Sens Commun made it clear it reserved the right to back another candidate in the second round.
Endorsing Fillon has given Sens Commun a key platform to pursue its agenda. The former prime minister has made ample room for the movement in his campaign, naming three of its members as spokespersons: one each in the fields of “family and values”, “business” and “environment”.
“Without Sens Commun, Fillon would not have given so much importance to family issues in his programme,” says du Cleuziou. The activist group, he adds, has acted as a “spur, encouraging the candidate to send clear signals to observant Catholics, who were thus highly mobilised”.
Attempts to reach out to this influential segment of the conservative electorate may also explain Fillon’s muddled remarks on abortion. While he had previously described abortion as a “basic right” of women, he said in June: “It’s not what I meant. What I meant is that it’s a right no one will reverse. But philosophically, given my faith, I cannot approve of abortion.”
The apparent contradiction has handed Juppé, 71, a line of attack, and prompted an unusually heated exchange between the two soft-spoken politicians. In a desperate bid to close the 16-point gap between the two, the mayor of Bordeaux, who is seen as more moderate, has sought to portray Fillon as backward and ambiguous on social issues.
“That’s the difference between us. While I consider it [abortion] to be a basic right, he [Fillon] wrote as much and then came back on it,” Juppé told Europe 1 radio this week, demanding that his opponent “clarify his position”. In a curt reply, Fillon jabbed: “I never thought my friend Alain Juppé would stoop so low.”
In a bizarre twist, both candidates invoked some form of papal anointment, claiming their views were consistent with the pope’s – a highly unusual step for presidential candidates in France’s staunchly secular Republic.
“I am closer to the word of Pope Francis than to Sens Commun or the Manif pour tous,” Juppé told supporters. His opponent promptly replied: “I am not sure he has really listened to Pope Francis, because on most of the issues Alain Juppé uses to attack me, the pope says much the same as me.”
Juppé’s dig at Sens Commun and the Manif pour tous appeared calculated to mobilise centrist and left-wing voters against Fillon. It played on negative perceptions of the anti-gay marriage movement, which has consistently struggled to shake off accusations of homophobia and racism (the latter directed at the black minister, Christiane Taubira, who penned the gay marriage bill).
Those accusations resurfaced this week, when the conservative primary got caught up in a row involving a poster campaign promoting contraception for gay men. Egged on by the Manif pour tous, a dozen conservative mayors decided to pull the posters, citing the need to protect “good morals”.
Defending the mayors’ actions, lawmaker Isabelle Le Callenec, who heads the “Women with Fillon” support group, said the posters were perceived by many as an “incitement” to homosexuality and adultery. She was promptly rebuked in parliament by Health Minister Marisol Touraine, for whom a serious health issue had become “hostage to a reactionary order from a bygone era”.
Fillon himself had a somewhat jumbled take on the issue. He told BFMTV he would authorise the posters if he were in charge of a municipality, but added that he understood the recalcitrant mayors. He then sought to turn the tables on his opponent by noting that one of the mayors was a Juppé supporter.
Critics of Juppé’s strategy warn that he risks further alienating Catholic voters by attacking his rival’s “extremely traditionalist views” on women, families, marriage and abortion. But du Cleuziou says the mayor of Bordeaux, who has also touted his Catholic credentials in a recent book, has little left to lose.
“Juppé knows the observant Catholics are already behind his opponent,” he explains. “Which is why he is exploiting a fault line within French Catholicism in a bid to rally support from more moderate Catholics.”
→ Bloomberg. 2016-11-25. Fillon Defends Anti-Abortion View in Final French Primary Debate
– Juppe losing in polls as primary fight enters home stretch
– Republican nominee seen going on to contest with Marine Le Pen
Abortion took center stage in the final debate of the French Republican primary as front-runner Francois Fillon defended his anti-abortion views as personal and not public, and his rival Alain Juppe went on the attack.
Three days before Republican voters pick their 2017 presidential candidate, the fact that an issue that was formally settled as a matter of law in France in 1975 became a focal point shows that it is social not economic policies that differentiate the two former prime ministers.
“As a politician for 30 years, have you once heard Francois Fillon suggest that the right to interrupt pregnancies should be renounced?” Fillon said. “Haven’t I, over 30 years, voted for every law that has given women access to abortion? The response to your question is that obviously I won’t touch anything in this domain.”
In France, the separation of church and state has been an enshrined legal principle for more than a century. It is revealing of the heightened state of the political climate that Fillon had to defend his position as a practicing Catholic while accepting French secularism. He jumped to pole position after winning 44 percent of the vote in the first round of the primary on Sunday.
There is little separating Juppe, who had dominated in opinion polls for months before this week’s vote, from Fillon other than degrees of social conservatism. That meant Juppe was left trying to paint Fillon as a hypocrite for a large chunk of a two-hour confrontation in an effort to regain lost ground.
“You wrote in a book that for you, abortion is a fundamental right of women, you voted for a text that said the same thing, then several weeks after in a public meeting you said the opposite,” Juppe said. “That’s why I asked you what your position is.”
Juppe, 71, won 29 percent of the vote Sunday in a contest that eliminated former President Nicolas Sarkozy and four other candidates. The second and final round of voting takes place this coming Sunday.
“Alain Juppe passed his evening excusing himself for having attacked Francois Fillon,” consultant Philippe Moreau Chevrolet said on Twitter.
With incumbent Socialist President Francois Hollande near record lows in popularity for any French leader, whoever wins on Sunday is likely to go on to face off against Marine Le Pen, leader of the anti-immigrant, anti-euro National Front, in the final round of the election itself next May.
The collapse of Juppe has been staggering. An Odoxa survey released Tuesday said Fillon would garner 65 percent of votes to Juppe’s 35 percent, though interviews were done over the weekend before the results of the first round were known. An OpinionWay poll of first-round voters conducted Sunday also projected a win for Fillon, by 56 percent to 44 percent. Voting in the second round doesn’t require having voted in the first round, and there’s no obligation to vote this Sunday for those who voted last week.
Juppe, currently mayor of Bordeaux, continued his pitch to centrist voters in the Thursday evening debate, pitching his desire to “unite” all French citizens in a nation that is “happy and proud of its identity and its diversity.” Fillon directly targeted Le Pen, saying his ambition is to repair the country and “to reduce the number of French tempted by the far right.” He was unabashed about his view of France saying “we won’t globalize our culture.”
Le Pen has consistently led in voting intention polls for the first round of the 2017 presidential election, though the vast majority of surveys show her losing the second round of voting to a mainstream candidate. The election is scheduled for April 23 and May 7.
“Francois Fillon does pose a problem for the National Front,” said Brice Teinturier, a pollster at Ipsos in Paris. “He embodies positions on values that may well win over some National Front voters. Yes, he might even beat back the National Front.”
→ Bloomberg. 2016-11-25. France Needs Someone to Stop Le Pen
On Sunday, France’s Republican Party will choose its candidate for the presidential election next spring. Opinion polls say that the Republicans are so far ahead that the party, in effect, is about to name the next president — either Alain Juppe or Francois Fillon, former prime ministers offering not-too-dissimilar conservative programs.
The polls, for once, had better be right. The likely alternative to either of those men would be disastrous — and not just for France.
Support for the Socialist party has collapsed: President Francois Hollande’s approval rating stands (if that’s the right word) at 4 percent. So the Republican nominee is likely to face Marine Le Pen, leader of the populist National Front. She’s France’s answer to Donald Trump, except with more self-discipline, added xenophobia and a clearer sense of purpose. If she wins, the European Union would be badly and perhaps fatally wounded. By comparison, Brexit would be a minor nuisance.
Le Pen celebrated Britain’s vote to quit last June as the beginning of the end for the EU — a project she’s called “objectively a total failure.” An EU without France, which designed and built the EU alongside Germany, is objectively a hard thing to imagine. A National Front victory would shake Europe more violently than Trump’s win has rocked the U.S.
The polls suggest that either Fillon or Juppe ought to beat her easily — but there are many unknowns. It’s unclear who will stand for the Socialists, for example, or whether Emmanuel Macron (who quit the government earlier this year and leads a new party) will gather strong support. Right now, though, the threat from Le Pen looks real.
Fillon did surprisingly well in the first round of the primary, and seems well-placed to beat Juppe for the nomination — which is good, because he’d be the stronger rival to Le Pen. Compared with Juppe, he’s no friend of multiculturalism or the European Commission. He takes a hard line on “Islamic totalitarianism.” He says immigrants should assimilate, wants to curb immigration from outside the union, and proposes to reform (though not dismantle) the EU’s system for borderless intra-EU travel. This puts him in a better position to stop conservative support from leaching to Le Pen.
Fillon’s proposed tough-love economic reforms — including labor-market deregulation — also have the advantage of being just what France needs. The country may even be ready for them.
Le Pen isn’t Europe’s only populist insurgent, and dealing with this dangerous swelling of discontent isn’t a job for French politicians alone. The EU’s other member governments and institutions need to recognize the doubts that many citizens have about the project. Without pandering or surrendering, they need to show they’re listening. Ignoring these worries failed with Brexit. The union cannot afford to make the same mistake with France.