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La Politique Française A French-American Comparison Between Two Different Political Cultures “Le peuple s’intéresse à la politique quand la politique s’intéresse.

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Presentation on theme: "La Politique Française A French-American Comparison Between Two Different Political Cultures “Le peuple s’intéresse à la politique quand la politique s’intéresse."— Presentation transcript:

1 La Politique Française A French-American Comparison Between Two Different Political Cultures “Le peuple s’intéresse à la politique quand la politique s’intéresse à lui.” “The people are interested in politics when politics are interested in them.” ~ Ségolène Royal

2 Methods 15 Questionnaires in English for my peers at Piedmont High School. 20 Questionnaires in French for my peers at the Lycée Léonard De Vinci. Conducted several interviews in both French and English. Casual conversation at the dinner table. Observe first hand how politics are treated as a topic in the mind of both an American teenager and a French teenager. Compare and contrast the way politics are perceived in two different high schools. Gain further knowledge of the French population and their political culture. Aims

3 Original Thoughts In my high school in Piedmont, the majority of the young people identify as Republicans. Almost all the young people are “interested” in politics, but are seldom knowledgeable in the area of politics and political issues. They do enjoy a good debate or two. Most of the young people adopt their parents or friends political opinions and positions on issues. We consider politics to be important in social life. My original thoughts about the way politics are perceived in a French high school is that students there are like the kids at my high school and take an interest in politics. I also imagined that they would like to share their political opinions and debate them thoroughly with friends and peers, though in good taste. I predicted that politics would be important in their social life as well.

4 American Political System Federal Constitutional Republic The United States is a Federal Constitutional Republic. One president, currently Barack Obama (D-IL). He is both head of state and government. 4 yearstwo terms The president serves a term of 4 years, with a maximum of only two terms. Executive JudicialLegislative There are three branches of the U.S. government: Executive (president), Judicial (supreme court), and Legislative (congress). Democratic partyRepublican party There are several political parties: Democratic party, Republican party, Libertarian party, Green party, and Constitution party. Voting; minimum age is 18 years; American system.

5 French Political System representative democratic republic France is a representative democratic republic. One president, currently François Hollande (Socialist), is head of state. One prime minister, currently Jean-Marc Ayrault (socialist), is head of government. 5 yearstwo terms The president serves a terms of 5 years, with a maximum of two terms. The prime minister is appointed by the president but can only be removed by the legislative branch of their government. The president does not have this power. Executive LegislativeJudicial There are three branches of the French government: Executive (president & prime minister), Legislative (parliament), and Judicial (conseil d’état). Socialist partyUnion For a Popular Movement Several political parties: Socialist party, Union For a Popular Movement, the Greens, Communist party, National Front party, and the New Anti-capitalist party. Voting; minimum age is 18 years; French citizen.

6 Freedom of Speech My peers and I at Piedmont High School like to exercise our first amendment rights, especially when debating politics and political issues. People in Piedmont show their support in various ways, including clothing and bumper stickers. We as a community express our opinions openly.

7 La neutralité On my French school’s website, they provide a link to the ministry of education. On this link there are 5 “grands principes du système éducatif.” Among these is “la laïcité” but more specific to my research is the principal of “la neutralité.” Laïcité Laïcité in France means the separation of church (or religion) and state. La neutralité La neutralité is the same thing, but applies to politics. laïque In the French school system, there is a strong desire to remain completely “ laïque ” which means creating an educational environment where personal opinions are not expressed. “L’enseignement public est neutre: la neutralité philosophique et politique s’impose aux enseignants et aux élèves”: The public education system is neutral: philosophical and political neutrality is essential for both students and teachers.

8 La neutralité continued.. When I arrived in Soissons, I did not realize that neutralité was an established policy in the French public school system. In this system, the questionnaire that I had prepared for the French students was not something normally permitted during the school day. One of the teachers realized that I did need data for my research and gave her students permission to respond to my questionnaire, as long as they stayed anonymous. I am grateful to her.

9 Does this mean that young French people don’t take an interest in politics at all? I was not able to discuss politics and political issues with my fellow French students at school. They did answer my questionnaire, and from that I could tell they are politically aware. The policy of neutralité prevents students from engaging in political conversations on school grounds in which they express their opinions. In the beginning, from this limited engagement with young French people and until I understood the principle of la neutralité, I was under the impression that not one the kids were interested about politics.

10 Interesting Occurrences A girl who volunteered to answer my questionnaire had her questionnaire confiscated. Spent most of my time conducting my research in the high school. In the high school there exists la neutralité and la laïcité, which made my research difficult, but not impossible. Several “sortir du nucléaire” posters that were placed on the columns of an overpass were removed the day after being posted. France is a socialist country, and most of the French students have a good idea of what socialism means in France. The idea of the government providing much of its society’s needs is not considered to be robbing people of their self-reliance. To Americans, the term “socialism” has a negative connotation in which socialism is synonymous with a welfare state, which does imply a lack of self-reliance.

11 Presidential Preferences (and their reasons) “I agree with his social viewpoints and foreign policy,” “I believed he would do his best to protect the middle class and improve the state of the nation in general,” “I believe in ‘humanity’ before ‘economy’ and President Obama has always been more fair and less biased than any other Presidential candidate of the time,” “best represented my views although neither did perfectly,” and “Mitt Romney never explained where he was going to get the money for his Economic Plan.” For Obama “Thought [he] was lesser of the two evils,” I thought his policies were more promising to turn America in a good direction to improve,” “I preferred his plans for our economy,” “[he’s] conservative,” “a combination of business experience, fiscally conservative principles, foreign policy ideas, and opposition to the Affordable Care Act.” For Romney

12 Presidential Preferences “[Because] he helps the rich.” For Sarkozy “Because I have a lot of left ideas and he is the one candidate who represents the left,” “he defends the French working population,” “I do not have a lot of confidence in Sarkozy,” “he has good arguments/points,” and “because he represents my views the best: social justice and education.” For Hollande

13 Do Political Opinions Hurt Your Friendships And/or Your Ability To Accept A Different Opinion? “No, I like a good debate,” “no, everybody is entitled to their own opinion,” “Absolutely not. However, I don’t accept different opinions as truth. I tolerate them and respect them. True acceptance requires changing your own opinions,” “no, because I don’t parade around sharing my political views,” and “sometimes they do, because some people don’t want to be friends with someone who doesn’t completely agree with them. I tolerate almost everyone’s opinions, though I hardly accept them.” “No, I do not mix politics and private life with my friends and don’t accept opinions that aren’t the same as mine,” “yes, because I do not like politics,” “it depends on the opinions,” and “not if my friends and I do not speak of politics. I think a different opinion would ruin our friendships.” American answers French answers

14 Factors Influencing American Teenagers’ Political Ideology 1.Family 2.Peers 3.Social Media 4.Education 5.Geography Though my high school is predominantly conservative, a lot of my peers form their political opinions based on their parents political leanings. Many of my peers have no idea why their parents choose to be of whatever political affiliation, much less themselves; this type of thinking can lead to always following what the majority thinks. Types Of Political Expressions In Piedmont: Banners – signs – posters – buttons – shirts – pins bumper stickers - catchy & harsh phrases

15 Factors Influencing French Teenagers’ Political Ideology 1.Family 2.Television 3.Radio 4.Newspapers 5.Political Rallies 6.Geography During the duration of my stay in Soissons, and my time attending the Lycée there, I expected there to still be some political discussion of France’s recent presidential election going on. When I began a conversation of the Sarkozy-Hollande election, the subject was quickly dismissed. Now I understand that in French society, it’s proper not to discuss politics in school because of la neutralité. Types Of Political Expressions In Soissons: Posters for “sortir du nucléaire”

16 Most Important Topic that is Frequently Debated? Piedmont students & teachers: National Debt Middle East Relations Healthcare Marriage Equality Taxes Economy Education Immigration French students & adults: Economy Education Work Force Unemployment Environment Equality

17 End Thoughts. I believe that politics is important in France in the life of young people. They want a future where they can find work (unemployment is about 10% in France currently), and those French students who answered my questionnaire see socialism as a vehicle to improve the chances for a good future.

18 Fin I am extremely grateful to all the people who helped make this wonderful experience happen. I would like to particularly thank the Alliance Française, past, present, and future for their support of home stays that has allowed me to grow in the knowledge of French culture, to learn the beautiful French language better, and to get to know real French people. These experiences will stay with me all my life, and will continue to inspire me. Thank you all.


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