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Ce que je peux enfin vous dire by Ségolène Royal

Updated: Dec 8, 2022

2018, Fayard

In Ce que je peux enfin vous dire (What I can finally tell you), which I bought in the supermarket over a year ago, politician and former presidential candidate Ségolène Royal paints a picture of her plight as a woman in a man’s world, and her fight against systemic problems in French politics. She reveals her disappointment at the lack of change, blaming it on politicians who lose touch when they get into power, forgetting about the day-to-day issues they promised to focus on. Once they get a taste of taking important trips around the world to meet other world leaders, she says, France’s “little” problems pale in comparison. In short, hubris leads to a change of priorities which stifles change.

It’s beyond time and space. Another planet. Presidential plane…red carpet…meeting powerful and interesting people…I saw aids come back completely on a cloud, everything about them had changed. Their look, their outlook, their behavior. This often lasted several days. They had the impression that they'd accomplished something very important, that they'd changed the world. That they were irreplaceable. And then the reality of French politics was back. So common and grassroots, they seemed to think. Luckily for them, their next trip was scheduled and they would be able to get back on their cloud. This is undoubtedly where ego and narcissism play the strongest role in political life.*

Disconnected leaders, disastrous results:

Royal uses the French word désinvolture, to further explain this disconnection from the everyday needs of the country. Désinvolture means: casualness, offhandedness, thoughtlessness, lightheartedness, nonchalance, flippancy, disconnection.

To be "disconnected" is to think that since you’re President or Prime Minister of the 5th largest world power, you’re the only one in charge, the most enlightened one, the universal depository of all knowledge.*

She believes that this type of thinking at the top of the state has disastrous results:

Emmanuel Macron and Ségolène Royal

We see it in insitutional reforms added one after another without the least bit of evaluation or concertation (i.e. employment legislation, public service and State reforms, retirement, taxation). None of these benefited from a collective discussion. Far, so far from the co-construction which is absolutely indispensable. And Emmanuel Macron is making the same mistakes. Exactly the same. Thinking that a mandate to reform equals an obligation to reform anything, as long as things are moving. And thinking that disorder in the streets (i.e. strikes) is evidence of successful reform. Mistake. Serious mistake.*

Younger Women:

Ségolène takes the opportunity to upbraid former President François Hollande, her ex-partner who left her for a woman 10 years younger, whom he then left for someone another 10 years younger.

The dilemma of the "disposable older wife" was tackled by SNL's Tina Fey and Amy Poehler: Meet Your Second Wife!!

Warning: A grain of salt may need to be taken with Ségolène’s inevitable self-congratulatory chapters on her own impressive accomplishments.

Worth a read, but not available in English.


* Here is the original French text for the quotes translated above:

C’est quelque chose qui est hors du temps et de l’espace. Une autre planète. Avion présidentiel…tapis rouge…rencontres passionnantes…Je voyais rentrer des conseillers complètement sur leur nuage, tout avait changé en eux. L’allure, le regard, le comportement. Cela durait souvent plusieurs jours. Ils avaient l’impression d’avoir accompli quelque chose de très important, changé la face du monde. Qu’ils étaient irremplaçables. Et puis la réalité de la poliique française reprenait le dessus. Tellement banale et tellement à ras de terre, semblaient-ils penser. Heureusement pour eux, le prochain voyage se profilatit et ils allaient pouvoir repartir sur leur nuage…C’est sans doute le moment de la vie politique le plus fort pour les ego et le narcissisme.

Etre désinvolte, c’est penser que parce qu’on est président de la République ou Premier ministre de la cinquième puissance du monde, on en est le seul responsable, l’avant-garde éclairée, le dépositaire universel de tout savoir...

On le voit dans les réformes institutionelles, additionnées les unes aux autres sans la moindre évaluation ni réelle concertation.”(Exemples: la loi travail, réforme services publics, réforme de l’Etat, la retraite, les impôts) n’aient fait l’objet d’aucune délibération collective. Loin, tellement loin de la co-construction, absolument indispensable. Et Emmanuel Macron refait les mêmes erreurs. Exactement les mêmes. Penser que l’injonction à faire des réformes oblige à faire n’importe lesquelles, pourvu que ça bouge. Et penser que le désordre de la rue…est la preuve d’une réforme accomplie. Erreur. Grave erreur.

22 views2 comments

2 comentários

25 de mai. de 2020

It's a classic in my book!


25 de mai. de 2020

I'm not quite sure I buy Royal's explanations about politicians in France "losing touch". For the most part, I don't think they ever were really in touch, given their elite backgrounds and educations (with certain exceptions).

Also I love Meet Your Second Wife!

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