SEI showcases student talent in symposium on French election
Sussex undergraduates studying French politics as part of their degrees have showcased their emerging talent at a symposium on the French presidential election.
Forty staff, students and visitors attended the half-day event on Wednesday (25 April), which was organised by the Sussex European Institute (SEI) and the Politics Society.
There were presentations from undergraduates Patrick Dowson, Louis Godfrey, Jonathan Green, Joe-Sheridan Power, India Thorogood and Julius Veasey - who have all taken courses on the ‘Politics of Governance: France’ and ‘Political Change: The Mitterrand Years’.
The topics they covered included: the importance of the presidential election in historical context; controversies over the election rules; the candidates’ programmes and the main issues and debates during the campaign; the evolution of opinion polls during the campaign and comparison with results of the first round.
Earlier the students had been on a study trip to Paris that included a visit to the National Assembly and a tour of most of the significant sites for French political history such as the Pantheon, the Basilica at St Denis and the Invalides.
Dr Sue Collard, who convenes the undergraduate French politics courses and organised the Paris study trip, said: “I wanted to get the students involved in this event as some of them engaged fantastically well with this election campaign and have developed a really good grasp of the complexities of French politics.
“It was a great opportunity for them to demonstrate this in a public forum, and also to get a taste of what it’s like to be on the other side of the lectern.”
SEI Co-Director, Professor Aleks Szczerbiak, commented: “This symposium is part of a broader effort by the SEI to draw undergraduates into our research community, for example by engaging with the University’s Junior Research Associate (JRA) bursary scheme.
“Hopefully, presenting and discussing their own analysis of the French election alongside Sussex faculty will - apart from helping them to hone their analytical and presentation skills - encourage our students to deepen their understanding of European politics by undertaking postgraduate study and their own research.”
At the symposium, Dr Collard and two other SEI-linked French specialists, Dr Sally Marthaler and Dr Adrian Treacher, gave their expert analysis of the campaign, voting patterns and the broader implications for Europe.
The seminar was held three days after the first round of voting in the French presidential election and ahead of the second round scheduled for 6 May.
The closely fought election has seen centre-right incumbent Nicolas Sarkozy face a major challenge from the socialist François Hollande, together with a strong first-round performance from Marine Le Pen from the radical right French National Front.