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1983 Young Leader, famed journalist gives French perspectives on U.S. elections
On November 12, 1983 Young Leader and noted journalist Christine Ockrent joined the French-American Foundation for a luncheon to discuss the upcoming 2016 U.S. elections and give her perspectives on how the U.S. political and electoral system is viewed from the other side of the Atlantic. Prior to this luncheon, Ockrent answered a few questions about French and U.S. politics and her time as a Young Leader.
Christine Ockrent is a columnist and writer based in Paris. She writes regularly on French, European and international issues for various European publications. She produces and anchors a weekly radio program on foreign affairs, "Affaires Etrangères", on France Culture public radio. She is a regular contributor to the BBC and other TV and radio networks.
Previously she was COO of the French Radio and TV World service (France 24 and RFI). She was also editor in chief of the weekly news magazine, L'Express. Most of her career has been in television, both as producer of documentaries and anchor of the evening news, where she shaped a style as the first female presenter and editor.
Ms. Ockrent was also deputy director general of TF1 Television and an editor with RTL Radio.She began her career in broadcast journalism at NBC News and worked for eight years at CBS' 60 Minutes. She has been awarded several French and international distinctions for her work in TV journalism. She is a graduate of the Institut d'études politiques in Paris and studied at Cambridge University. She has written 14 books and essays - ranging from a biography of Hillary Clinton to her latest investigation on Russian oligarchs and the Putin power system.
She is on the board of Havas, the French-American Foundation--France, ECFR (European Council on Foreign Relations), CER (Center for European reform) and Human Rights Watch France.
How would you describe the French interest in the U.S. elections? What generally are the perceptions of the French for the American elections and the political system more broadly?
You mentioned primaries. In the last presidential elections in France, the Socialist Party selected its candidate, François Hollande, through a primary system that resembled more that we see in the United States. Given the heightened awareness of how the United States works through heightened global media and social media, do you feel like France and other European nations are being influenced by the U.S. electoral or political system and vice versa?
I think it would safe to say that Europe was on a certain level enamored with Barack Obama, as evidenced by the fact that he was awarded a Nobel Prize shortly after his election, which many considered perhaps a bit premature. Do you feel that looking forward to the 2016 elections, Europeans have any similar admiration or fascination with any of the candidates?
One of the reasons you are here with us today and your earliest connection with the French-American Foundation is your participation in the Young Leaders program in 1983, alongside the wife of a newly elected governor from Arkansas. What was your impression at that time?
Beyond meeting Hillary Rodham Clinton for the first time, what did the Young Leaders program mean to you?
You mentioned the French elections, which are also coming up. A common refrain we have heard is that France is experiencing a certain malaise and uncertainty about where to go politically, economically. What do you think is the primary issue that will be addressed in the upcoming French elections, and how much promise do you think these elections have to bring true change to France?