In 2011-12, I was writing a column on the French presidential elections on Rue89 (a very prestigious media at the time later acquired by L’Obs
). It was a wonderful opportunity for an exiled journalist newly moved to the country. But I decided to shut it down just after a few articles.
During the 2017 presidential campaign, I had the opportunity to cover the rally for Libération. I interviewed some candidates like both Socialist Party and Green Party candidate Benoit Hamon
. I had also the privilege of interviewing President François Hollande
at one of his last stays at the Elysée Palace.
This year with French Match, I decided to write about this epoch-making election rally. You are not French or French-speaking but you are interested in this race that will probably change the history of Europe? French Match is the best news and analysis source for you.
But let’s first tell you my history of misunderstanding the French political spectrum
Coming to France as a political refugee in 2009, it took me more than two years to dare to write about French politics and expose it publicly. When Pierre Haski
, Rue89’s boss (now RSF’s chairman
) suggested me reveal my “Persian perspective” (that was the name of my column), I thought that it might be finally the time to share my analytical genius with the French people. I had the chance to visit Ségolène Royal
up close and speak with several of the candidates’ campaign managers. Many of them became ministers a few months later like Najat Vallaud-Belkacem
, former Minister of Education.
The column was a relative success, at least for me. I had dozens of comments directly on the website. (It’s a shame that after the acquisition of the site by L’Obs, we can’t see past readers’ comments anymore).
It should be known that the French are a “late adapter” people when it comes to new communication tools. That’s why they created La French Tech
(An organization that promotes French startups), to keep in mind that France is not only about food, tourism, or Presidential affairs, but also it could be a Tech country, or as Emmanuel Macron advocates, a “Startup Nation
Anyways. The point is when you had dozens (and sometimes hundreds) of comments in 2012, you might think of yourself as an influencer on the topic. I maintained a good connection with my readers because their feedback meant a lot to me. Some of them, I saw them directly drinking together a cup of coffee, as it is the Parisian way. As time went on, I realized that a lot of attention paid to my articles was not because they were insightful, but rather because they were exotic. “Check it out! An Iranian guy talking about us, that’s funny!”
Afterward, I reread all of my articles. Well, they weren’t relevant at all but naive and, honestly, sometimes dumb. For example, I thought that Ségolène Royal
is a sweet and romantic political woman. I had this cliche in my mind that religion is a non-subject in French political discussions, and that the political parties here are (must be) very progressive, open, and horizontal.
But I was wrong. So wrong. I was watching the French political scene with my Iranian glasses. Pierre Haski was right to name my column “Persian Perspective”. So I decided to change my outlook. “We must wash our eyes, we must look differently”, in the words of the contemporary Iranian poet Sohrab Sepehri.
If you want to write about the internal issues of a country, you need to know the contexts, the history of the actors, and even their state of mind. All of this was severely lacking for me in 2012. I was a journalist with good French skills, but that is not enough to write about the complexity of the political spectrum in a country like France. So I continued to inform myself and keep track of every political swing in the country.
Follow France from inside out
Understanding the unusual rise of the far-right candidates in France but also the far-left, knowing about the Communist Party coming back at the same time as an unexpected geopolitical crisis (the war in Ukraine) would seem complicated to you. No worries. I will stay by your side to explain the stakes: as if you were in France. I will give you the opportunity to follow France from the inside out.
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