Seuil, page(s): 400
19 January 2017
"Liberty," "secularism," "security," "people," "identity" . . . Politicians like words that slam or clash. But what precise meaning do they give them? At the dawn of a high-risk election year, and in the context of the rise of the National Front and increased terrorist threat, it is imperative to clarify the meaning of the words of the political debate.
For the first time, a scientific analysis decodes the logic of the discourse of the politicians who are competing for the 2017 presidential election - Marine Le Pen, François Fillon, Jean-Luc Mélenchon, Supplanted - François Hollande, Nicolas Sarkozy, Alain Juppé. At the crossroads of an ancient world and a new world, the ability of politicians to read the contemporary world and to verbalize it is scrutinized.
The author sifts over 1,300 texts - 2.5 million words - written or spoken from 2014 to 2016 to decrypt keywords, fetish words, and taboo words, and to map the positions of each and the reconfiguration of the political landscape.
This semantic, stylistic, and rhetorical inquiry reveals that behind the surface of small sentences is the profound structure of a political worldview. What do they say ? Who is "left" and "right" at this time of elastic political concepts? Are the "populisms" on both sides really the same? And what are the dead angles of these seasoned orators, who handle both silences and unspoken words, as well as slogans and soundbites?
More than ever, the battle of ideas will pass through the battle of words. And the one who imposes his own sense of "secularism" or "Republic" will have won an ideological victory, even beyond the electoral results.
Professor of literature at Stanford University and associate researcher at the Cevipof at Sciences Po, Cécile Alduy is the author of Le Seuil de Marine Le Pen: Decryption of the new frontistic discourse (2015).