Macron’s Win and the Role of Media

BY BRIAN MALCZYK, CLIMATE SECURITY FELLOW

Former Minister of the economy under François Hollande, Emanuel Macron emerged victorious in Sunday’s Presidential elections amid a few interesting conditions of liberal-democratic push-and-pulls. Beyond European fiscal ambitions and ideological ebbs and flows, his election was the case of two paths differently taken.

In the United States, Citizens United vs. the Federal Election Commission has become a consummate, albeit politically contentious, reminder of the sacrility of universal access to a realm of ideas—the First Ammendment. The ruling and its circumstances was demonstrative of the right to an unfettered dialogue between the public and candidates vying for public office. On Sunday, and the two days preceding it, however, a legally induced media blackout took place in France.

These two disparate cases reflect in part a divergence that was taken in the 19th century between French and American states where the state developed different scopes. France currently hosts its Fifth Republic, or current republican constitution. Its state apparatus initially garnered a unique and broad role through a solidarist appeal, or a homogeneous combination of political and social interests. From there, the state has played an important and broad role in the daily lives of its people. One well-known example of this was the “ketchup ban,” a 2011 decree regulating the free slathering of Mayonnaise, Ketchup, and Vinaigrette on meals in French schools.

Now, take the country-wide extension of Republican, community-centered smallness—now seen as Marble-Cake Federalism here in the United States—as it feeds into constitutionalism. Traditionalist perspectives of constitutionalism led to flexible interpretation, and back again. We witnessed a tremendous shift in this over the New Deal Era, for instance, where events led into structural changes. This interplay informs the U.S. system, where certain precepts are held as judicially, politically, and socially important. 

Beyond value systems, it is important to note that the margin by which Macron emerged victorious was wrongly forecasted. As such, there is something to be said for spontaneity’s role in changing an election. France is not the sole host of a general election media blackout either. The United Kingdom also prohibits its media from political observation of its candidates on the day of an election.

Given the discussion of Professor Tim Wu’s concept of net neutrality and unpredictable releases of information packets, the question of what role the media, corporations, the state, and individuals should play during the elections has become an ever-important one. Divorced from ideology, the previous spate of elections are exemplars that we can use to either reaffirm or re-evaluate our values towards the dissemination of information.