Valérie Pécresse often quotes Nicolas Sarkozy, during whose presidency he was first minister of Higher Education and Research and then of the Budget. But he also cites Angela Merkel and Margaret Thatcher, whom he takes as a model. Two thirds Merkel and a third Thatcher: this is what Pécresse says about herself. Presumptuous? Meanwhile, with his victory in the closed primaries of the Republicans (Les Républicains, yet another incarnation of the French Gaullists), he led to a reshuffling of the cards in the presidential competition. Although polls prior to her victory attributed her only a potential nine percent, behind not only Macron, but also Marine Le Pen and Eric Zemmour’s radical and catacombic extremism, but ahead of the feeble figure of Anne Hidalgo, candidate of the PS (Ifop, November 2021), the Gaullists seem reassured by this novelty. As the political scientist of Sciences Po Dominique Reynié observed, the position of the Gaullists is not comfortable, caught between a macronism that on the economic level is not so far from their positions and the populism of the far right, themselves inhabited by different tendencies. However, around this female candidacy, intent on to assemble a family partly dispersed and in crisis for too many years now, new hopes are being raised. The heirs of de Gaulle (the real ones, amidst the many suitors who tug at the ghost of the General) now seem willing to give serious battle to the outgoing president and also to regain the consensus lost on their right. Extensive program, the founder of the V Republic would have said. Pécresse’s ability to build a credible image for himself, just a few months into the presidential elections, will be crucial.
His the course of honors has nothing to envy to her competitors: graduated in economics from a prestigious Grande École, Enarca, councilor of Chirac, as has been said several times minister, with to her credit the reform of the University, parliamentary, locally elected at various levels, until he became President of the Ile-de-France Region in 2015, a position he still holds today after re-election in June this year. And to which she has devoted herself intensely in recent years, to the detriment of building a popularity that could have benefited her career, unlike many other male colleagues in the party. He is not a pop character. Not too convincing with his somewhat mannered style in meetings, effective in televised interviews and in primary debates. Because she is precise, competent on dossiers, decisive and fast. Now that his candidacy, which not too many considered probable, it is certain that he immediately unleashed a convinced attitude as a challenger, self-confident, of his way of doing and understanding politics, of the validity of his ambition. Run to win. And in doing so he denounces a clear political vocation, a policy to change things, as Sarkozy liked to repeat. He knows Russian. As one of its models.
With her, the Gaullists will perhaps be able to resume a path interrupted in 2017, when they did not reach the second round, and bumpy long before, by the last phase of the Sarkozy presidency. The path towards the recovery of a potentially governing party capable of producing presidential.
In the first round of the presidential elections, which by now has turned into a crowded showcase of varied ambitions, there are also other women. But what is relevant is that, among the first six French political groups (according to the results of the Europeans of 1919), three will be represented at the crucial appointment of spring 2022 by women. Two, Pecresse and Le Pen, aspire to win and at the moment a victory of one or the other is not impossible. In particular, if Le Pen pays for the mechanism – increasingly weak, but still existing – of the republican roadblock against the far right, Pecresse would have serious chances if he managed to reach the ballot (perhaps favored by the division of the far right between Zemmour and the leader of the Rassemblement National).
What a difference with our Italy! France is not a Scandinavian or Anglo-Saxon country. Women had the right to vote in 1946, like Italian women and with a serious delay compared to much of the West. The relationship between women and politics remains problematic. Yet autonomous and ambitious top figures are now making their way. We cannot fail to mention Christine Lagarde, current president of the ECB, minister with Chirac and Sarkozy, four years at the Ministry of Economy. In the nearby and in many respects similar Italy, however, flat calm. Almost. Only one woman has risen to the role of political leader, affecting the scenario of the party scene: Giorgia Meloni. Who at a certain point took over his own political destiny by leaving Forza Italia and co-founding a new party, of which he then takes the reins. Seven years have passed since Meloni became president of the Brothers of Italy and in all these years no other woman has imitated her. There are women parliamentarians and ministers, women who also make their voices heard. In recent days, the ministers of the Draghi government have presented together a bill on violence against women. However. However, apart from Meloni, they do not affect the political scene and partisan competition. They do not contribute to innovations, changes, surprises in the political offer. No one to say (and Meloni is also shy about this): I aspire to lead the country. They don’t dare, they don’t challenge, they don’t kill fathers and guardians. Sometimes they raise their voices a little, but then everything ends up in nothing. They are in their place, they do their homework well in many cases, but they never surprise. Because to surprise you have to invent, and to invent in politics you have to break patterns, relationships, fidelity.
Searching for the causes of this almost drowsiness of women in politics is not easy and it is risky to try it: you risk the commonplace. We can recall the weight of a society that is still culturally backward in many ways like ours. Which projects its conditioning on the processes of socialization, of men and also women, too often educated to always stay one step behind. It certainly does not help the somewhat moldy nature of Italian politics, made up of parties without congresses, where internal competition is all too controlled by a few who defend their positions and close to newcomers, and women are, in our society. archaic, always among the newcomers. It does not help a culture that denies authority to women because they are media that amplify this prejudice, narrating men and women of politics with languages and perspectives full of preconceptions. On the other hand, mostly men tell about politics. Or, rather, those to whom the authority of the judgment is attributed remain men. It also counts, perhaps and unfortunately, the laziness of too many women who are satisfied with the path that has been allowed to them. And perhaps also the choice of women with a vocation, character and determination to devote themselves to different paths, where their talents should not be mortified.
Be that as it may, this male domination of politics, as well as being serious and iniquitous, takes on increasingly grotesque traits, while the world around it changes. And given the disaster facing Italian politics, it is tempting to think that precisely that domination (which, moreover, amplifies macho attitudes, in turn linked to certain conceptions of power, loved above all for itself and not for what it allows to do) you bear some responsibility for that disaster. But the political male can sleep peacefully: despite the many chatter the topic in Italy is not on the agenda.