Contents Summary Introduction 1 Fear, a structuring element in French public debate 2 Elections at a time of political distrust: is the extreme right a possible solution or a further threat? 3 French citizens are increasingly Eurosceptic but not Europhobic Conclusion Notes References 129 130 137 148 159 164 166 171
129 Summary How do we live with fear? This question is being asked with ever greater intensity in French society. In recent years France has been particularly exposed to an economic, geopolitical and political environment marked by crises, instability, insecurity and emotional shocks. The feeling of fear seems to be nourished by the accumulation of concerns that are different but interconnected to a greater or lesser degree – fears about Islamist terrorism, economic and financial globalisation, declining social status and the rise of the extreme right; and ambivalent attitudes towards the European Union (EU). This convergence of diverse fears sustains a climate of collective pessimism that has already been identified in many opinion surveys. In order to better understand the situation of French fears and their impact on political debate in the country, Demos asked the Institut Jacques Delors to analyse the results of an exclusive survey carried out by YouGov in six European countries (France, Germany, Poland, Spain, Sweden and the UK). The results of this YouGov survey provide illuminating comparative perspectives and strengthen the findings of previous studies. There are three distinctive elements that emerge in particular: ·· Fear is a structuring element of French public debate, in many forms. ·· The upcoming elections in 2017 are likely to be an outlet for a feeling of mistrust, and will determine whether the Front National is seen as a possible solution or a further threat. ·· The growing Euroscepticism among French people should not be seen as the expression of a Europhobic desire to leave the EU.