Stéphane Le Foll published a book a few weeks ago entitled Reconnect with the France of the Enlightenment (Calmann-Lévy). The least we can say is that the left is sinking more and more into obscurity. Together, it does not reach 25% of the voting intentions in the latest polls. Latest twist to date: the former Minister of Justice Christiane Taubira proposed her candidacy. For Stéphane Le Foll, the problem of the left is not strategic, but ideological. The former Minister of Agriculture, who is welcoming Prime Minister Jean Castex to his city of Le Mans this Saturday, recommends a weeding operation to drive out wild weeds and calls for a great harvest of ideas. According to him, the left is on the wrong track by following in the footsteps of Wokist and diminishing movements. Le Foll wants to replace progress and reason at the heart of the socialist project. Will he be taken for a madman?
Point : Has the left gone mad?
Stephane Le Foll : The left is lost, it is looking for coherence. She is ready for all adventures like that of an improvised primary at the last moment. Its problem is not strategic, but ideological. We did not work on the substance. This is particularly true of the Socialist Party. We no longer know what distinguishes him from other political parties or what he has as a project.
Have you drawn the line on 2022?
Nothing is ever lost in politics. But in the current state of forces, the left, which represents 25% of voting intentions, is in great difficulty. It is not the number of candidates that is in question. It counted as many, if not more, in previous elections. It is the offer that it offers which no longer corresponds to the majority wishes of the French.
Anne Hidalgo is very low in the polls. Should we change candidate? Christiane Taubira plans to introduce herself …
The question is symptomatic of the discomfort on the left that has come at the end of a cycle. Should we change candidate? All of this is improvisation. The question should be on the project for France. At the end of this electoral process, Anne Hidalgo, Olivier Faure and Christiane Taubira will have to assume their responsibility before the French.
READ ALSOPresidential: Taubira, the eternal return
Who will you vote for in the first round?
I will vote socialist.
Wokism is a dead end
In a tribune at Sunday newspaper, former Prime Minister Manuel Valls maintains that part of the left has gone astray in degrowth or wokism, and this is what is slowly killing it. Do you agree with him?
Manuel Valls has made a mistake himself. But the left is losing its way by following in the footsteps of these theories. A gap has widened between an Enlightenment left, progressive and republican, and an identity and victimary left. Élisabeth Roudinesco has clearly shown how assignments of identity took precedence over emancipatory commitments.
If we are on the left, in your opinion, we should fight wokism?
Wokism is an impasse which defends the fact of the minority against universal values. When I hear one of the organizers of the popular primary argue that we must put an end to universalism and defend “universalities”, I tell myself that there is a decline in values on the left. Minorities make their law, brandishing perpetual debts to be settled in the name of the past. SOS Racisme mobilized against racism; the “wokists” fight to lock everyone up in their skin color or religion. On these questions, the Socialist Party has allowed itself to be ideologically dominated for too long. We must put an end to this drift. Guilt does not make public policy.
We have the feeling that the left has abandoned the idea of progress …
The left is stuck between two discourses that turn its back on progress: Melenchonism celebrating planning and statism, and political ecology extolling sobriety and degrowth. The left must choose progress over Malthusianism and Declineism.
Degrowth is incompatible with insecure classes.
You are not descending?
No. The left in history has carried the values of science, of reason, even if it has always been accountable for the emotions that there are in each individual. By dint of moving away from it, we take great risks. It is this question that worries me in the public debate. Socially, the degrowth is incompatible with the insecure classes which are already daily in the sobriety suffered.
What would socialism be like with Le Foll?
I have three strong convictions. The first: progress must remain a structuring element in the thinking of the socialists. The second: every French person must know that he can be recognized and that he can be an actor in the success of his own destiny. The third: in an era which is radicalizing, we must seek the necessary compromises in the name of the general interest.
Would you revive nuclear power?
The energy mix, it was François Hollande who fixed it. I was his campaign manager. We had just experienced the tragedy of Fukushima. We have said: we are going to follow the same path as Germany, by reducing the share of nuclear power by 25%. Of course, Fessenheim must be closed in order to create a dismantling process, because we must prepare to close power plants. We must obviously finish Flamanville. That said, President Macron is getting carried away a bit. We have five years to decide on the future of EPRs. The priority is the development of renewable energies and the technological leaps to be made.
What do you think of the government contract of the coalition led by Social Democrat Olaf Scholz in Germany?
Germany offers us the example of a peaceful and pragmatic debate linked to parliamentary institutions. The government contract of the coalition led by Olaf Scholz proposes a political balance that takes into account ecological, social and liberal aspirations. In France, the five-year term and the legislative calendar must evolve, because, currently, this calendar leaves too much room for individual adventures.
The hard right is back.
What did you think of the broadcast of the President of the Republic on TF1?
In terms of communication, it is rather successful, but too long. But this show revealed the limits and inconsistencies of Emmanuel Macron’s philosophy of success. In reality, his five-year term has rather benefited the leaders. While it is all the French that had to be taken. This quinquennium was marked at the beginning by the arrogance of its president and of its majority. Emmanuel Macron is still trying to erase it.
What do you save from his presidency?
Valérie Pécresse accuses him of “burning the cash register”. But it had to be done in the face of this health crisis.
Since you are talking about Valérie Pécresse, is her candidacy really a game-changer?
The right-wing primary was an essential event capable of changing the course of the presidential election. Valérie Pécresse inherits a right radicalized by Eric Ciotti. She will meet Eric Zemmour on her way. “The right is back,” she says. The hard right is back. The temptation of a very identity line is already in conflict with its ambition to bring back the electorate of the Macronist right. Philippe, Le Maire and Darmanin are the only ones to have imposed themselves during this five-year term.
And the left-wing macronists? Le Drian, Castaner, Dussopt …
Is demonizing Eric Zemmour the right method to fight him?
We are wrong to take Eric Zemmour for a puppet. He should not be despised. On the contrary, we must show that his speech is part of an old nationalist, Maurrassian and Common sense tradition.
The most important is the size of the ideas.
Immigration occupies most of the presidential debates. Why do we still not manage to discuss this subject rationally? Do you recognize a share of responsibility for the Socialist Party in this state of affairs? Have we not “moralized” this question too much?
Pope Francis reminded Lesvos: immigration is about men and women. Recalling the humanity of migrants is the role of the left. However, as Michel Rocard said, France cannot accommodate all the misery in the world. At some point, you have to dare to say, yes, you have to control immigration. But this answer is incomplete if we do not ask ourselves the question of a major policy of cooperation and development of the countries of immigration.
Most of the presidential candidates live in the Paris region. Some see it as a reflection of the gulf that is widening between Paris and the rest of France. What does the mayor of Le Mans think?
The question is whether these candidates know France and its cultures well. I am not sure. We need an act 3 of decentralization. It is not a question of weakening the state, but of strengthening France. The challenges of Île-de-France are not the same as those of other regions. The mode of government must give a greater place to local actors. This is why the Senate must be a true assembly of the territories.
In a recent editorial by Point, Franz-Olivier Giesbert ranked you, alongside Édouard Philippe (1.89 m) and Laurent Wauquiez (1.88 m), among the promising “great men” of French politics. Isn’t it a handicap to be tall when you aspire to lead the Socialists? Mitterrand, Rocard and many others were a little smaller …
The most important is the size of the ideas.
What is your wildest dream?
That France continues to dream.