• For the first time, three women are candidates for major parties for this 2022 presidential election.

  • Long after our European neighbors, France is on the way to trivializing a female candidacy for the Elysee Palace.

  • But there are still many questions in this campaign of which we barely know the actors and little of the programs.

    To see if this novelty will influence the proposals and the atmosphere, with a candidate on the far right known for his misogynistic speeches and writings.

After the expected declaration of Eric Zemmour last Tuesday and the inauguration of Valérie Pécresse on Saturday, the presidential campaign is really launched.

With Valérie Pécresse for the Republicans, Anne Hidalgo for the Socialists and Marine Le Pen (RN) who has already been invited to the second round in 2017, three women now represent three important parties.

The sign that the French presidential election is changing times?

"It is in the process of normalization"

“Finally, women are legitimate to enter politics by the front door, welcomes Mariette Sineau, political scientist and co-author of

Femmes et République *. 

In 1944, women obtained the right to vote and to stand for election.

But in fact, women have been ostracized from political life.

“Until very recently.

"In the history of the presidential election under the Fifth Republic, at the start the first two ballots were played between men," she recalls.

The first who marked the spirits was Arlette Laguiller (Force Ouvrière) in 1974. After her, there were many female candidates, but always from marginal parties, therefore without hope of winning the competition.

The second stage was, in 2006, the investiture of Ségolène Royal by the Socialist Party.

Today is a new step.

"

"The fact that there are three at the same time, it shows that it is in the process of normalization, adds Armelle Le Bras-Chopard,

political scientist. It is customary for a woman to be a candidate for the supreme election. Not because she is a woman, but as a person whose skills are recognized. It was still far from being obvious when Edith Cresson was appointed Prime Minister of François Mitterrand… ”

Since then, some have allowed some progress.

"Valéry Giscard d'Estaing took into account the Women's Liberation Movement (MLF) and put" women at the helm "by appointing several women ministers, in particular Simone Veil, continues Mariette Sineau.

The French then saw that a woman in politics could "break the house"!

But the parties have not always given way to female candidates.

"The mass arrival of women in the National Assembly, the heart of Republican power, dates from the 2017 legislative elections," recalls Mariette Sineau.

It is concomitant with the rout of the old parties in favor of LREM.

The major Republican parties have long played the role of "gatekeeper" for the benefit of men.

"

Being a woman, an asset in 2021?

A fact which is observed in particular in the right, champion to bypass parity in politics. The investiture of Valérie Pécresse, the only woman facing four men, not really expected, is therefore a milestone. “During her inauguration speech, she highlighted the fact that she was a woman,” continues the political scientist. And underlined that it was a “revolutionary” act on the part of his political family. She analyzes that it is a factor of modernity and change. Valérie Pécresse has recognized herself in two foreign female models: Angela Merkel and Margaret Thatcher.

"It is very important in politics to have role models," insists Mariette Sineau. With globalization, seeing women at the first station on our TVs helps to trivialize this possibility. Thirty or 40 years ago, the French political class had a very virile tone. Women then had to try to make people forget their gender and imitate men. "

A bygone era? According to a December 2019 poll, 71% of French people considered it "desirable" for a woman to be elected president by 2030. "It's new," says the political scientist. In the 1970s, the polls showed a great reluctance of French people of both sexes to elect women to political positions, all the more so as they were located high in the hierarchy. In France too, long in the rear in terms of feminization of the political scene, we could soon have a woman President of the Republic! "

There is still a long way to go… "Valérie Pécresse, Anne Hidalgo and Marine Le Pen represent political parties with fluctuating influence in recent years, nuance Mérabha Benchikh, doctor and researcher in sociology, author of 

Femmes politique:" the third sex

 "? *.

The PS and LR are no longer systematically assimilated to government parties.

"

Turning the page on sexist attacks?

Another sign that this campaign is part of a new context, the sexist attacks, which Ségolène Royal suffered in 2007, should be less violent. "Today, you would no longer hear a reflection like that of Laurent Fabius:" who will look after the children? ", Assures Armelle Le Bras-Chopard. This is a real change. For the other male candidates, avoiding these sexist attacks is a way to stand out from Eric Zemmour. It's interesting to see that there are three women in front of this candidate who made misogynistic, anti-parity, anti-feminist remarks. He has since sought to qualify his remarks. "

But for Mérabha Benchikh, machismo is still a reality. “The media coverage gendered on the physical appearances of the candidates (clothes, make-up, haircut, postures) is not changing or very little ... The political class is crossed by a violence and an unfailing virilism. Moreover, these codes can also be internalized and embodied by women in the political battle. During the municipal elections in Paris in 2014, the passes of arms between Nathalie Kosciusko-Morizet, Rachida Dati and Anne Hidalgo were very violent. "

It will be interesting to see in the coming months whether topics related to women's rights will prevail in the campaign. “Even if in their project, they pay attention to the cause of women, Marine Le Pen and Valérie Pécresse are clearly not feminist activists, nuance Armelle Le Bas-Chopard. And Anne Hidalgo does not present herself as the candidate of the feminists, even if she says she espouses their cause. "What Mérabha Benchikh supports:" Valérie Pécresse has never demonstrated, through her values, her ideas and her actions, a progressivism or even a feminism in phase with an egalitarian aim between individuals. "

This novelty could nevertheless push some candidates to put forward proposals concerning women. Or to surround themselves more with advisers. “Regardless of the presence of these three candidates, women's rights would have had an important place compared to previous elections, driven by a post-

metoo

and

metoo

context

political, corrects Mariette Sineau.

Programs aimed at women will not be identical, marked by different ideologies.

Valérie Pécresse (LR) will tend to strengthen the rights of the family while Yannick Jadot (EELV) will put forward much more “feminist” demands.

Either way, it is good policy for all candidates to take into account the female electorate as women are in the majority in the electorate.

They represent 52% of those registered and for the presidential election, their participation rate is equivalent to that of men.

Women are therefore to be taken seriously.

»Women voters as competitors.

* Femmes et République, la Documentation française, 2021, € 32. 

** Women politicians: “the third sex” ?, L'Harmattan, 2013, € 28. 

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