The French presidential election is observed with great interest across the world. On Thursday 14 April, the « World Insight » programme of CGTN (Chinese Global Television Network) staged a debate on the « horse race » between the four candidates who have the best chances to qualify for the second round. Albrecht Sonntag was invited to join this live debate, together with French Senator Hélène Conway-Mouret and Professor Cui Hongjian from the China Institute of International Studies in Beijing.
It is true that the proximity in the polls of the four front-runners provides for a high level of uncertainty, and the possibility of a second-round showdown between the candidates from the extremes of the political spectrum raises concerns. According to Albrecht Sonntag, however, there is a tendency in the media both outside and inside France to over-dramatize what’s at stake. As a matter of fact, none of the potential winners can be sure to obtain at the Legislative Elections in June a sufficient majority to govern with. This will both highlight the flaws of the Fifth Republic’s constitution and provide for an unprecedented need for complicated coalition-building, thus considerably reinforcing in fact the power and importance of a Parliament that if often considered week and side-lined by the executive.
His attempts to « de-dramatise » the debate were probably vain. Media need heroes and villains, tragedy and triumph. And the French presidential election, with its excessive personalisation, its oversize egos, and its tendency to refuse compromise, is a particularly fascinating contest. Whether it is good for democracy is another question.
The entire debate can be viewed on Youtube.