Centrist Revolt

Revolutions, for the most part, tend to come from the margins. Recent events however point to an opposing trend. The election results in French, for example, in which the moderate center recorded a deciding victory in both the presidential and parliamentary races, point to a political turnaround with vast international ramifications.

A truly centrist party, not center-right or center-left, established just one year ago, managed to secure both the presidency and a parliamentary majority. This, in a country with a longstanding political establishment, whose traditions have largely created the Western model for left and right politics. What’s more, this upheaval took place under the most unlikely of conditions, in a time of great uncertainty following several mass terror attacks built on religious and ethnic lines.

The world in which we now live is changing constantly, right before our eyes. The internet and social media revolutions have transferred the ownership of information from the hands of elites — politicians, journalists and others — making knowledge and influence widely available and accessible. Mass knowledge and mass communication, huge sources of potential power, have empowered a public long-removed from positions of authority. Conversely, through losing a significant part of their ability to shape mass opinion, this process has weakened the traditional leadership’s grip on power.

Against this backdrop, the last few years have seen a number of popular revolutions around the world. Today, we’re seeing the start of a new, moderate revolution.

Polls carried out in various locations around the world underscore that a clear majority holds moderate views, rejecting extreme ideologies in the hope of pragmatic political leadership.

This trend saw Emmanuel Macron elected to the French Presidency, and his En Marche party carried to victory in the National Assembly. France’s citizens declared loudly their support for a positive vision, built on nuance, and dismissive of the binary viewpoints of extremists from all sides.

There are those who caution against reading too much into the Macron victory. While turnout was indeed marginally down on previous elections, this marks a wider and worrisome trend of disengagement from politics, and not a qualification of the scale of Macron’s outsider victory.

On the positive side, alongside the great hope brought by this new moderate dawn, there are of course question marks over the ability of an inexperienced president to come good on his promises, and a fledgling party to unify around its leader. These questions, ultimately, are secondary. The main, dramatic headline is that the citizens of the French Republic rejected extremism, favoring political moderation.

Just as in the French revolution, France today represents the vanguard, foreshadowing events that will reappear elsewhere. The French moderate camp represents all of us, and its light is already showing up all across the global horizon.


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