French Presidential Election Series 2022, Episode 2:
Anita Doudaine was a member of the SVP (Centre Democratic Union / Conservative Right) in Switzerland. Expatriated for 15 years in France, the Appenzeller has actively participated in the movement of yellow vests. She recognizes herself today more in the candidacies of the far left than those of the far right in the French presidential election.
This content was published on March 23, 2022 – 16:04
“The French operate and think differently, they do politics in a different way.” A cultural difference that Anita Doudaine, 47, perceives on a daily basis since she lives in Charnas (department of Ardèche), a village located halfway between Lyon and Valence.
Originally from Teufen, in the canton of Appenzell Ausserrhoden (north-eastern Switzerland), she completed an apprenticeship as a building designer and then a technical school in the same field. Professionally, her studies led her into the design and layout of exhibition stands.
It is precisely in a living room in Beijing (China) that she meets her future husband, a Frenchman. This German-speaking Swiss emigrated for love to France in 2005.
Political commitment in Switzerland
Alongside her studies, she is active in politics; but never for a specific organization, as it cannot “identify with any party 100%”. Her professional life took her to Olten (canton of Solothurn, central Switzerland), where she joined the UDC. The main reason for this choice is the party’s opposition to joining the European Union: “I am not in favor of the EU – at least not in its current form,” says the Swiss.
Non-membership of the EU becomes the leitmotif of his political commitment. This is how the Appenzelloise presented herself to the municipal council of the city and was elected. “Unfortunately, I was unable to complete my mandate,” she regrets.
The French presidential election as seen by the Swiss in France
France is the country that hosts the largest community of Swiss abroad with nearly 201,000 people officially registered with consular representations.
Before the next presidential election which will take place on 10 (first round) and 24 April (second round) 2022, SWI swissinfo.ch has decided to collect the testimony of Swiss people from France who are active – or have been – in the main political parties Swiss, with the aim of obtaining a Swiss view of French politics.
The Swiss parties represented are: Socialist Party (PS, left), Democratic Union of the Center (UDC / conservative right), Le Center (formerly PDC, center), Les Vert-es (left).
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A far-left UDC
Today, she is no longer a member of the SVP: “I left the party when I left Switzerland”. But she continues to support him during federal votes and is “70-80%” in agreement with his policy. His biggest divergence concerns the party’s social and migration policy.
In France, she is not a member of any political movement because, there either, she is “not 100% convinced”. One of those she feels closest to is La France insoumise by Jean-Luc Mélenchon (extreme left). To the party president, however, she prefers one of her deputies, the journalist and documentary filmmaker François Ruffin. She also says she has a penchant for the New Anti-Capitalist Party of Philippe Poutou (extreme left), which is anti-European.
When asked about the paradox of having been a member of the SVP in Switzerland and of supporting the extreme left in France, Anita Doudaine replies that “there are finally a certain number of points in common between ideas which are very left in France and very right in Switzerland”. She thinks of the sometimes very critical line of these parties towards the EU and the fact that they address a section of the population that is more proletarian (in France) and rural (in Switzerland).
No chance for the far right
Anita Doudaine considers that La France insoumise and the New Anti-Capitalist Party “not only have ideas, they also have solutions”, which would not be the case for Marine Le Pen (National Rally, extreme right), Éric Zemmour ( Reconquest, far right) or outgoing President Emmanuel Macron (La République en Marche, center). She criticizes the latter for not giving concrete leads on how to finance their “great ideas for reform”, unlike François Ruffin of La France insoumise, according to her. “I find it important to know whether the ideas can be implemented or not,” she says.
For the Swiss, the two main far-right candidates Marine Le Pen and Éric Zemmour are in competition, “and it’s very good like that,” she adds, laughing. She is satisfied that the president of Reconquête is a candidate in the presidential election, because “it reduces the risk that one of the two passes in the first round”. And to add with conviction: “Anyway, neither of them is eligible for me!”
She thinks Valérie Pécresse (Les Républicains, right) and Emmanuel Macron will be in the second round of the election on April 24, although she sees “no big difference between their two programs”.
“Catastrophic” is the adjective with which Anita Doudaine qualifies the five-year term of the outgoing president. “Since I have lived in France, I have never seen people so divided”. She castigates the dismantling of hospitals and the privatization of retirement homes.
However, she recognizes that not all the current problems can be blamed on Emmanuel Macron: “It is also the responsibility of previous governments who put a patch here, a patch there”, without ever tackling the real problems. , which are now “urgent” and to which “radical solutions will have to be found”.
For her, the rise of extremes in France, whether left or right, “is the result of the last twenty years in politics”.
The Yellow Vests
She attributes the Yellow Vests crisis to “a resigning state”. Starting in November 2018, hundreds of thousands of people wearing yellow safety vests staged blockades and marches, initially to protest fuel tax hikes, but also more broadly against the government’s decline in power. purchase and to denounce the gap between the government and the territories.
The one who works in an administration today says “people’s distress when the planned aid does not arrive, when electricity, gas and petrol are taxed so much that they can no longer afford it, when people who have worked all their life get only 700 euros a month and the state does nothing”. The fault is also due to a policy very oriented towards cities and urban areas, according to her, “while in the countryside we do not even have public transport”.
So, out of solidarity, Anita Doudaine actively participated in the Yellow Vests movement and goes “still to demonstrations from time to time”. But, three years after the start of the crisis, “there is a certain resignation”. She has the impression that things have not progressed much.
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A country impossible to reform
The Appenzelloise is aware of the fact that the governments in France do not have an easy task, because almost every desire for major reform results in large-scale demonstrations. This is the reason why she thinks that direct democracy is not possible in France: “People are not ready to make personal sacrifices for the common good, even those who earn a sufficiently good living”.
Anita Doudaine does not believe that the French people would accept decisions that would only garner a narrow majority in the popular vote. “Accepting the democratic process takes time, you have to become familiar with it, over several generations,” she says.
According to the Swiss, giving more voice to the people would require a radical transformation of the French political system. Because “a direct democracy with a president at its head and a majority in parliament is not possible. He or she would have too much influence on the votes”.
If she does not find many positive points in French centralization, she still sees an advantage over the Swiss system: speed. “Decisions can be made quickly and this allows quick reactions to urgent problems,” she says.
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