The art of consensus is as foreign to French politics as couscous is to Japanese cuisine.

The art of consensus is as foreign to French politics as couscous is to Japanese cuisine.

In many countries, the outcome of last legislative elections would have provoked nothing but passing astonishment, a simple incident in the life of the nation. As soon as it was known, we would have begun to study the possibility of such and such an alliance, the subjects of disagreement existing between one and the other, the points of convergence capable of creating the conditions for a governmental dynamic.

In France, none of that. In the night, Germany would have declared war on the France that the confusion could not have been greater.

Suddenly, it was as if the earth had opened under the feet of French democracy, threatening to engulf it forever. We no longer knew which saint to devote ourselves to and, in this great vacillation where everyone looked at each other like an earthenware dog, their fangs already out and ready to bite, we understood that nothing would be easy for the majority as for the opposition.

It is because the art of consensus is as foreign to French politics as couscous to Japanese cuisine. The other, the adversary, the one who does not share your ideas, is always seen as the incarnate devil with whom even to discuss would seem like a crime of high treason. In France, we don’t negotiate, we invective, we vociferate, we spit in our faces and we brace ourselves on our principles like an Orthodox Jew to his curls.

I don’t know where this hexagonal particularism comes from, this kind of hysteria that prevents political parties from meeting around a table in order to work for the general interest. As if in the end, it was more important to stay on your own than to participate in the life of the nation. Or as if lending oneself to this kind of practice meant renouncing one’s convictions, when it is only a question of finding common ground acceptable to all parties. Pragmatism is not a defeat of thought but much more an accommodation with reality, the ability to find agreements without denying oneself, to change one’s position in order to continue to move forward.

What is democracy if not a series of compromises where, year after year, we try to work for the community while knowing that meeting the expectations of each other is a matter of squaring the circle, of impossibility metaphysical? Especially in France, country of the untraceable concord where one prefers to let the street dictate its law than to find common ground.

It is that by dint of considering the other as an enemy of the human race – a danger for the very life of the country –, by depicting him as a “Ultra Liberal” or one “extremist leftist”, you end up believing in your own exaggerations, making any dialogue impossible. Deadly logic in which one sinks at the risk of losing oneself for good. When even before listening to what the other has to say, we say “no” in advance, we stop doing politics to sink into futile militancy.

That during the election period, we practice excess and verbal overbidding, the stigmatization of the adversary, what could be more normal? But that this all-out tussle continues after the election results, once the curtain has fallen, is surprising. Because finally, what is the Politics if not the art of compromise, the possibility of finding a common denominator between points of view considered a priori as irreconcilable?

Without the practice of consensus, politics is only masturbation, sterile ode to his own glory. We enjoy opposing without even realizing that this stubbornness serves the cause of those we are supposed to represent. If in any way, we do not influence the decision-making, if we oppose to oppose, if by existential principle we refuse any inflection, any inclination to negotiate, what is the use of it if not to maintain his condition as an asshole, a sectarian individual incapable of extending his hand in the service of the common good?

Might as well play tennis against the wall of his garage without bothering anyone. The problem being that this practice of scorched earth where there is no salvation outside the four walls of one’s own orthodoxy automatically ends up raising the extremes. Since the government parties are unable to erase or at least soften their differences in order to move forward, the voter ends up concluding that they are completely useless. And to vote the next time for troublemakers in whom love of country merges with detestation of foreigners.

So we should consider last Sunday’s results as an opportunity for France. The time has come to leave these adolescent postures to gain maturity and responsibility. To put the general interest before partisan gratifications. The country is in no way ungovernable, it is just looking for a balance where the permanent invective must give way to the need to build a common future. ladies and gentlemen deputiesinstead of opposing for the sake of opposing, the time has come to agree.

To show a spirit of openness. And tolerance.

Tolerance.

That’s a nice government program, isn’t it?

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