On 30th May the WA chapter of the French Australian Chamber of Commerce & Industry (FACCI) held a business seminar involving an informative and lively panel discussion on the French presidential election from a social, economic, cultural and political perspective.
The guest speakers: Prof. Benjamin Reilly, Dean at Sir Walter Murdoch School – Public Policy & International Affairs, Dr Alexey Muraviev, Head of Social Sciences and Security Studies Department at Curtin University and Mr Patrick Kedemos, Honorary Consul for France to WA (2012 to 2017), gave their analyses of the campaign and prominent issues, and their predictions on what to expect under the new president.
FACCI organises debriefs, seminars and events on a regular basis to give to the WA community the opportunity to share and exchange professionally on economic, political and social issues. For this event, the French Chamber of Commerce organised our business breakfast semianar, taking place in the beautiful views at the Ernst & Young Building, an ongoing sponsor of FACCI.
Despite the fact that FACCI is an apolitical organisation, we wanted to give our members the opportunity to discuss this important matter that has received significant global coverage and attention.
Prof. Reilly opened the debate by stating: “This election is a game changer for France and internationally; it stops populism and shows a return to stability.”
An expert on public policy & international affairs, Prof. Reilly insisted on the fact that the outcome of the French election had Australia feeling quite relieved: “It guarantees the huge commitment of the sub-marine contract, signed in December 2016. It's important for Australia that France stays a strong partner in terms of defense.”
Prof. Reilly also highlighted the fact that potential foreign policies to come would, without any doubt, have a strategic impact on Australia, especially regarding French overseas territories and the New Caledonian referendum which will take place next year.
“France rejected the hard line approach to tackle terror attacks. So it is extremely important that Emmanuel Macron comes up with a solution that all French people agree with.”
Dr Muraview expressed his concern about Emmanuel Macron's lack of experience: “I'm not sure he has what it takes to be head of state. During his campaign he made fairly general statements, he did not go into much detail. And we can't ignore the 33.9% French people that cast their vote for Marine Le Pen. Emmanuel Macron needs to adjust his politics to meet these voters’ expectations.”
According to Dr Muraview, facing strong political figures such as Donald Trump or Vladimir Putin, there is a high chance that Emmanuel Macron would be put on the backburner on the international political scale, especially because of the challenges he has to overcome regarding defence. Since their meeting, Donald Trump has been very vocal about the EU and the fact that the US is no longer going to pay for its defence.
“France struggles to retain its place in the top 5 exporters of defence technology. Emmanuel Macron needs to make sure that France keeps its strategic reliability.” Dr Muraviev added.
The challenges for the new French President would be to define his character as a politician in the European and Global politics scale and to make EU and NATO work.
Mr Patrick Kedemos, Honorary Consul for France to WA (2012 to 2017), closed the debate by sharing his enthusiastic and positive vision of the French political future.
“This election is a reconfiguration of the French political landscape. The new President can heal the divide between the left and the right” he explained. “Brexit also created new opportunities for France in the European Union.”
The future of French-Australian relations is also looking bright according to Mr Kedemos: “France is a key European partner for Australia, they signed quite a few partnerships in the last 18 months.”
“I am confident that President Macron is going to be a strong and positive President and that he will both strengthen France’s economy and re-launch the European project. French diplomacy is very active and will allow him to promote France’s interests in Europe and the world.”
Despite their different points of views, all three guest speakers proudly admitted the success and growth of French-Australian relations in the last few years. These evolving exchanges have led to an increasing number of French people living in Australia and the development of numerous partnerships between French and Australian Companies.
In partnership with "Le Petit Journal de Perth" http://www.lepetitjournal.com/perth
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