With Burrinjuck Greens
Back in March this year, I wrote about ABC journalist Stan Grant’s prediction that the world might just be waking up to the downfalls of following far right politicians, such as Trump in the US and Hanson in Australia. His prediction is looking promising in Europe with the French choosing a centrist over a far-right president and the UK also heading back to centre in their recent elections, adding to a number of defeats of right wing politicians in Europe.
French voters overwhelmingly elected the centrist French candidate Emmanuel Macron who embraced the European Union, immigration, free trade, and human rights. In his first few weeks in office he is positioning himself as clearly anti-Trump, on issues from globalization and the environment to human rights.
In response to Trump announcing the withdrawal of the US from the global climate change treaty, the Paris Agreement, Macron released a video in which he appealed to US climate researchers to move to France and take advantage of state-funded research projects. His statement at the end of that video, “Make our planet great again” has become a catchphrase in the face of Trump’s isolationist “Make America great again”.
Macron has also challenged other nations about human rights abuses in his first weeks of government. He is also signalling his intention to work together with other countries, aiming to turn France into a powerhouse for global intelligence for counter-terrorism. Macron has taken on a role as a leader of fairness and liberty and there are claims that France is playing the card that used to be America’s card.
Is this the kind of courage that we would like to see in our leaders? I believe so. Political leaders who can both confront the major issues of their people and take people with them are rare. Leadership is about having the courage to develop a different vision and strategy, to empower others to act and to have the strength of character to set the right examples, despite the risks. This case of France taking on the US will be a most interesting one to watch, and hopefully something that will inspire Australia’s politicians.