On April 10, France went to the polls in the first round of voting for the 2022 presidential election. The results pit incumbent Emmanuel Macron versus far right leader Marine Le Pen with the determining second round vote to be held on April 24. In the wake of the first round, some 400 artists have lent their names to an op-ed published in Le Monde urging the electorate to put its voice behind Macron.
Signatories including Juliette Binoche, Jane Birkin, Guillaume Canet, Charlotte Gainsbourg and Mélanie Thierry wrote in the opinion piece, “Without illusions, without hesitation and without trembling, we will vote for Emmanuel Macron.” Of Le Pen, they said, “We cannot imagine, at the head of France, a candidate whose program remains that of xenophobia and withdrawal, a candidate who has made an alliance with totalitarian and warmongering powers. We cannot imagine what this terrible sign would mean for Europe and for the world.”
Populist Le Pen, who has ties to Russian President Vladimir Putin and was one of the first international politicians to celebrate Donald Trump’s U.S. presidency, has attempted to soften her image and that of her anti-immigration party, but her program still includes measures that are in contradiction with European treaties, potentially calling into question the freedom of movement of goods, and also of people.
In the Monde op-ed, the artists wrote that Le Pen “has never been so close to winning… We are appalled… We have sometimes had differences, oppositions, deep disagreements with the power in place. We have sometimes had disappointments too, anger, rage, even. But if for some of us the outcome of this first round was not the one hoped for, if for some of us mistrust remains, there is for us today no hesitation, no doubt, no wavering. We do not equate democracy and populism.”
They also wrote, “Nothing in Marine Le Pen’s program brings us closer to the history of France that is resistant, humanist, generous and open to the world. Nothing links Marine Le Pen to the France of Villon, Beaumarchais, Voltaire, Hugo or Camus.” (The reference to Camus is interesting given that Le Pen made a trek down to the Luberon in Provence on Friday, visiting small villages and passing by where the writer lived and is buried.)
Regarding Le Pen’s ties to Putin, the op-ed called out, “Nothing tells us how she will free herself from her obligations to Putin… We cannot imagine the feeling of the invaded, bombarded and massacred Ukrainian people, when they find out that we have elected an accomplice of the head of the Kremlin to lead our country.”
The group of signatories concluded, “We cannot imagine that France, country of the Enlightenment and the Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen, brings to power a president whose claimed friendships with the worst dictators in office would be our shame and our dishonor. For all these reasons, and aware of our civic duty, we will vote without hesitation for Emmanuel Macron on April 24.”
Many in the arts would have been disappointed by the elimination of leftist candidate Jean-Luc Mélenchon in the first round, but nevertheless see Macron as a more desirable option than Le Pen. This is the second time in a row that Macron and Le Pen will face one another in a runoff election; in 2017, Macron beat Le Pen in a landslide final with 66% of the vote, but she has been gaining ground this time around. The duo are set to debate on April 20..
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