The twists and turns of French electoral politics send out repercussions as far as Atlanta where the law partners Dominique Lemoine and Frederic Lefebvre have abandoned their allegiance to France’s Republican party in a move partially motivated in response to France’s National Front far-right party, which is following policies made popular in the U.S. by Donald Trump.
France’s Republicans, created under the leadership of former President Nicolas Sarkozy in 2015, three years following his defeat by the Socialist Francois Hollande, prided themselves on belonging to a pro-business, center-right party. The unexpected creation of the En Marche party and the election of its leader Emmanuel Macron as president last year recast France’s traditional political landscape.
At that time, Mr. Lefebvre, who was a representative in the parliament on behalf of overseas French living in North America, told Global Atlanta that after being a member of the Republicans for 17 years, he decided to support Mr. Macron’s election “with the enthusiasm that France’s youth who have joined Mr. Macron’s En Marche party.”
In the wake of the Marcon election, Mr. Lefebvre, who had served as a former cabinet minister in Mr. Sarkozy’s government, and Mr Lemoine, who was elected in Atlanta to a post representing Frenchmen and women living in the Southeast, became law partners, Lemoine Lefebvre LLP, with offices in Paris and Atlanta.
The tilt further to the right of the Republicans, more closely aligned now with the National Front, sent them over to a new party titled Agir with a manifesto claiming “to defend the liberal, social, European humanist and reformist idea of the right and the center.”
More bluntly put, Mr. Lemoine told Global Atlanta that they abandoned the French Republican party “because we didn’t want to make the same mistakes of the American Republicans and move more and more to the right. We see what’s happening here and we don’t want to have it happening there.”
Although opposed to the Trump administration’s policies he said that French-U.S. relations were “not bad at all. Macron and Trump get along well even if they don’t see eye to eye on everything. By enlarge there is no cloud hovering over us at the moment.”
Mr. Lemoine and Mr. Lefebvre favor a deepening of the European Union like Mr. Macron and consider themselves reformists. “He has been able to make reforms that the Republicans wanted to, but didn’t have the will to do so,” Mr. Lemoine added, also citing the global recession that the Sarkozy government faced making reforms especially difficult to implement at the time.
Additionally he said “We believe saying ‘no’ to globalization is not a solution, and we are convinced that we need to build Europe in depth based on friendship with Germany. We know what happened to countries that closed their borders in the 1930s.”
Agir is not giving En Marche “a blank check,” however. Mr. Lemoine criticized the lack of the government’s attention to the concerns of the French people overseas. He specifically criticized Roland Lescure, the member of En Marche, who has moved from Montreal to Paris, and defeated Mr. Lefebvre as the North American representative in France’s parliament.
“I haven’t seen him,” he said. “He didn’t even visit Florida after it was hit by the hurricane. Mr. Lefebvre came (from France) every month and traveled the entire country.”
Among the concerns of overseas French, he cited among others the previous government’s cutting back on scholarships for French students who want to attend schools where they can learn French, taxes on sales of French properties which go to pay for French social services from which they don’t benefit and a preference for electronic voting in French elections as opposed to the current use of paper ballots.
As for Agir, he said he was impressed by how much momentum it has gained since its launch in the fall of last year and through its alliance with the Union of Democrats and Independents party in France’s parliament has 35 representatives already out of 577.
Mr. Lemoine may be reached by calling 404-250-0290.