French voters will be turning out on 21 April and 5 May for the two rounds of an election to choose a new President of the Republic. It is a key position in France since, even if the government, which is elected separately from the President, is responsible for deciding and implementing national policies, and even if the periods of "cohabitation" (with President and parliamentary majority from different parties) have brought some changes (our system is in effect a presidential one).
The campaign has not yet officially begun, nor have all the candidates officially announced they are standing, but there is no doubt that everyone is secretly preparing for the election. There is already, however, a sickening stink arising from various sordid scandals involving several of the contenders, and this does not bode well for the campaign (if it continues to be conducted in the same terms), there is a strong risk that there will not be a proper debate on the major issues affecting the French people in the medium and long term, let alone the policies that may be adopted.
The editorial committee of the journal Futuribles is deeply concerned that the questions that we feel to be critical for the future of the country might be sidestepped in this way. We have therefore decided this month to create a special section in which, without trying to be exhaustive, we examine the candidates' propositions with regard to the issues that we do not want to see dodged. The section therefore raises questions about security and defense policies, energy policy, the issue of sustainable development, policies on innovation, research and education, on employment and measures to cope with the challenges of an ageing population. It also addresses the problems of public services and tax reform, citizenship and types of management, without forgetting, naturally, to quiz the candidates on sleaze.
We are well aware that we can only scratch the surface of these topics. Other issues are just as important and should be on the agenda: what are their policies for health, housing, inequality, the fight against social exclusion and delinquency? What about policies for economic and social development, the environment, science and technology...? The list of major issues facing French society in the short, medium and long term is lengthy. And the state, even if it cannot cope with all of them and even if nobody expects it to produce miracle solutions, has a role to play in tackling them, including to undertake reform of itself and to allow the spirit of enterprise to flourish...