the French view of the idea of sovereignty illustrates a serious misunderstanding | EUROtoday

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Emmanuel Macron delivers his speech on Europe in the large amphitheater of the Sorbonne University in Paris, April 25, 2024.

VSThis is an enormous misunderstanding. Sovereignty is on everybody's lips however not in each coronary heart. The day after Emmanuel Macron's second speech on the Sorbonne, the fourth wave of the Ipsos survey, in partnership with Cevipof, the Montaigne Institute, the Jean Jaurès Foundation and The world sheds mild on the distinctions that should be made to know the reception, by the French, of the query of sovereignty.

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There is, on the one hand, sovereignty as an idea. When the frequent title is used alone, with no qualifying adjective, it’s then saturated by its historical past and it’s essential to take a detour by way of the usage of this phrase for 50 years to decipher the opinion of the French. Yesterday, sovereignty was a taboo phrase. It was struck by illegitimacy, due to those that loudly claimed it – the acute proper – and what it was generally equated with – its sovereignist drift or its nationalist pathology. In doing so, and for many years, the phrase was merely unused by all these occupying the central political area.

The semantic evaluation of the overall coverage declarations pronounced between 1974 and 2022 is edifying from this viewpoint: sixteen speeches and… solely twelve references to sovereignty. Perhaps much more illustrative, the phrase is barely uttered 3 times by Philippe Séguin in his well-known 1992 speech in opposition to the Maastricht Treaty – although, on this case, it was certainly a switch of sovereignty with the abandonment of the franc and the creation of the euro.

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Today, sovereignty has regained legitimacy in public discourse. With Emmanuel Macron's first speech on the Sorbonne in 2017, sovereignty, by changing into European, turned acceptable once more – the phrase was pronounced twenty-three occasions. In his second speech on the Sorbonne, on April 25, the Head of State additionally congratulated himself, utilizing the phrase once more sixteen occasions, that this idea, “which could seem very French”both “gradually imposed in Europe”.

From taboo to totem

In the meantime, he has been absolutely reintegrated into the nationwide discipline. Prime ministers Elisabeth Borne then Gabriel Attal used it thirty-seven occasions of their basic coverage declaration, greater than all their predecessors mixed. Infinitely declined – protection, digital, business, ecology, well being, immigration – the taboo phrase has grow to be a totem phrase.

The drawback is that its reception has not undergone the identical evolution. What does sovereignty imply for the French? Firstly, a polysemous idea. Invited to decide on the phrase which, for them, most evokes that of sovereignty, they hesitate and disperse between the “nationalism” (22%), the” independence “ (20%), the ” power “ (20%), the “protectionism” (11%) and ” freedom “L'“self-determination” or the “protection” (rather less than 10% every).

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