Henri de Soos, Alliance VITA’s General Secretary answers 4 questions regarding the significance and the scope of this political trend indicator.

1° Why establish such a trend indicator?

The trend indicator is a simple tool, often used by several organizations throughout this presidential election period. Using a comparative table with clearly formulated language, the prior position for each candidate or his future commitment is summarized. This clarification is useful information for voters and contributes to democratic discourse.

Since autumn 2016, Alliance VITA has published several trend indicators on its website. A trend indicator was performed for each Primary voting session (for the Left, Center and Right political parties), and currently we provide updates for the 11 official candidates.

2° Your trend indicator doesn’t address all the subjects that French citizens are preoccupied about!

Before casting their ballot in a presidential election, the constituents should evaluate all aspects of political, economic, social and international life. However, we are convinced that most of the policies a candidate proposes always correlate with a “certain perception of Mankind”.  It is as essential to identify and understand this anthropological viewpoint, although rarely expressed openly, as it is to explain “a certain idea of France” in international politics. Therefore in our opinion, it is indispensable to shed light on these basic principles.

We have then chosen 10 so-called « biopolitical » subjects, since they provide tangible proof for each candidate’s bioethical convictions. These subjects deal with respecting the most vulnerable of our citizens, and the measures required for them to become, or remain included as part of society. Often, these are issues affecting those individuals who don’t have much electoral weight. For example in cases of surrogacy or medically-assisted reproduction it is mostly only the adults’ desires which are taken into account. But who is concerned about the child, deprived of his paternal or maternal filiation? Isn’t this fundamentally unfair? Who worries about or defends the infant?

3° How is the color attributed to each issue?

We created 4 different categories, to represent each candidate’s position on the issues: ethical (blue); unethical (red) ambivalent (grey); and unknown for any specific policies (white).

But in some cases, a candidate may have changed his opinion from that of previous years (for example for laws concerning ethical issues) compared to his current position during the electoral campaign. Thus there are 2 different colors to represent a change in policy. This is especially the case for the 3 subjects listed at the bottom of the table.

For example in the first category, concerning human embryo research, only 3 candidates voiced specific opinions: the primary “cursor” evaluated the candidate’s position for the 2013 law which removed the precept of prohibition for this particular research, and created guidelines to authorize it under specific conditions.

In our opinion, François Fillon voiced an ethical opinion when the law was voted (since he voted against), but he recently voiced an unethical point of view, since he clearly stated he was not in favor of abrogating this law. Marine Le Pen and Nicolas Dupont-Aignan also had an ethical position at the time the law was voted, but currently we don’t know if they want to abrogate it as they have not yet stated their positions on this particular issue. Therefore, the table attempts to make a distinction between these different positions taken at different periods of time. In order to keep the same cursor for all the candidates, we had to make a distinction between the two different situations.

In fact, the idea is to « compare like with like », with the same benchmarks for each candidate and for each issue. Otherwise, the candidates are not being compared with the same reference criteria.

This same principle was used during the last reform to enforce a wider scope of “numerical obstruction” to abortion: we specifically emphasized François Fillon’s position to abrogate on this last issue, compared with his previous one on embryo research.

Even if this is merely one single issue, whereas others were taken during the 5-year term, in our viewpoint, this kind of resistance has considerable political impact after years of subordination under a deconstructive ideology.

Our trend indicator is updated periodically, in function of the latest known position for the candidates. We underline not only simple statements, but well-founded implications, since we expect candidates to have the courage to “repair the deconstructive damage” to our society.

4° How is an overall appreciation established for each candidate?

The objective of the trend indicator is not to establish an ideal « providential » candidate who would be readily obvious….since that candidate doesn’t exist! Some profiles appear to assure an overall ethical coherence. But when looking at the details for each candidate, there are certain incoherencies, either in the historical development of his or her convictions, or on various issues. Many do not state their positions; therefore we have no way of knowing what they really think.

Everyone must form their own opinion, by consulting the files of the candidates’ declarations for further details, by comparing each issue, by seeking additional information, by discussing with friends, etc. The final decision to vote for a candidate may be made in function of multiple criteria, among those cited, but also in function of other issues, as mentioned above.

As for many French citizens, we have observed that political utterances are increasingly short-lived, and the candidates’ promises are increasingly unstable. Regardless of how specific the trend indicator is, these aforementioned conditions may affect its validity, or its scope. But this requires us to act in a responsible manner, not naively, blindly or passively to give any candidate whomsoever a blank check. Regardless of the election results, this is the reason we continue to remain committed, involved and active, not only until the legislative elections, but continually throughout the coming five-year term.