France's overseas territories reject Macron
France and its overseas territories are politically out of sync. In the first round of the recent presidential elections a majority there voted for the left-wing populist Jean-Luc Mélenchon. Then in the second round far-right Marine Le Pen won 58 percent of the vote. The elections have exposed the profound crisis in relations between mainland France and the country's former colonies scattered all over the world.
A lack of jobs and good companies
The vote is based in large part on social and economic grievances, writes Hervé Mariton, former overseas minister and president of the Overseas Business Federation, in Le Figaro:
“At the heart of this social drama is unemployment, which is dramatically high among young people, half of whom are unemployed, the brain drain and social bureaucratisation. The biggest economic problems are the high cost of living, the insufficient number and clout of businesses and the often inadequate national legal framework. ... Business development is important to generate wealth, create jobs and escape social misery and population decline.”
New status needed
It's time for a fundamental revision of relations between Paris and the overseas territories, writes Antoine Joly, former French ambassador to Nicaragua and Suriname, in Le Monde:
“Rather than limiting ourselves to a solution with more autonomy, we must be bold enough to re-examine an agreement that General de Gaulle already had in mind in 1958. At that time he proposed that the overseas territories could join a French community of sovereign states enshrined in the Constitution. The idea was to create a new community, negotiated jointly and accepted by both sides, which would free France from the image of an old state stuck in the 19th century while allowing it privileged relations with the member states of a French community in three different oceans.”