Christ is Risen, Greek brothers and sisters around the world! I wish you all health, peace, and love. As we Orthodox Christians celebrated Easter as normally as has been possible the past two years, in the midst of the war in Ukraine – without, incidentally, a Pascha truce being declared by Orthodox Russia – the whole world was holding its breath over the French election.
When it was finally announced that the winner would again be Macron, the vast majority felt a deep relief. Europe has avoided the adventure of an unpredictable far-right government and both a possible withdrawal from NATO and close French economic ties and even a dependence on Putin.
However, the results do not offer the opportunity for either celebration or complacency. Although the difference between the two candidates is large – 58.5% compared to 41.5% or 18,779,000 compared to 13,297,760 votes – it was significantly smaller than the previous time, and the abstention rate was the highest percentage in half a century (28%). This is being interpreted as evidence of the growing frustration of citizens with the French ruling class and the accumulation of substantial economic problems. To the economic frustrations that had been created before the coronavirus pandemic, which further crushed the middle class and the poor, more pain was added as the war in Europe created unprecedented uncertainty and pushed up the prices of energy and commodities. While it is not clear what the authorities can do, for example to reduce the price of energy, the burden is so unbearable that they add to the frustration that causes citizens to turn to far-right and far-left parties.
Nevertheless, the result of the French election offers another opportunity to secure the democratic state and its principles and values. However, this is a small relief. Because when we are worried about a country like France, should we not be much more worried about countries with less stable states and a tradition of authoritarianism?