by Alice Carrazza 

Politics is based on the possibility of initiation, but often it seems to be trapped in chronic slowness. Old leaders, like relics of a bygone era, continue to dominate the global stage. This preeminence, forged by gerontocracy, the rule of the elderly, appears as a cumbersome burden. However, we are witnessing a metamorphosis, a change that could be a catalyst for a new political era. Jordan Bardella is the shining example of this evolution.

A New Era of Leadership in Europe?

In a chaotic European political terrain, a young man of extraordinary charisma stands out, an exception among the gray ranks of the usual bureaucrats. It’s Jordan Bardella. This young leader has captured the attention of the French electorate since he took command of Rassemblement National. His determination is clear: he will lead the list for the European elections in June 2024, as confirmed last Monday in an interview with Le Figaro: “There will be no other national elections until 2027. So, as an outgoing European deputy and leader of the party, I will naturally lead the Rassemblement National list.”

In a continent often dominated by long-standing political leaders, Bardella’s swift ascent sparks a crucial conversation about the significance of a fresh wave of leaders in European stage. This young president, who will soon celebrate his 28th birthday, embodies the triumph of the new generation and early competence. His charm and knack for engaging with others appear to have won the hearts of French voters, a fact corroborated by polling data. IFOP reveals that Rassemblement National would once again emerge at the top in all configurations, overshadowing a fragmented left and a right still in search of identity. This success has not gone unnoticed by other players in the field. On Wednesday night, Éric Zemmour expressed the intention to present Marion Maréchal as the lead candidate for Reconquête in the upcoming European elections.

Yet, in Italy, conservatives seem to be looking elsewhere, perhaps incapable of fully understanding the importance of change. Bardella’s age is not just a chronological detail but rather a key to deciphering his impact. It represents the engine of the French renaissance, opening the doors to a completely new political approach.

The Importance of Youth in Politics

If in a republic a young nobleman with extraordinary virtue emerges, everyone’s eyes turn toward him, and each one honors him without regard to any other merit.

Niccolò Machiavelli, in his time, wisely understood the importance of “young princes” in politics. He foresaw that politicians from a previous generation were gradually losing the ability to adapt to the extraordinary novelties of their time. The power of innovation and the logic of the unprecedented have the power to disrupt the established order of things. Therefore, as Machiavelli stated, when a young person of extraordinary virtue emerges in a republic, the eyes of the citizens turn toward him, ready to honor him without reservation.

This concept is even more evident when we consider politics’ approach to modern means of communication, especially social media. Despite the political elite’s efforts to keep up with the times, older politicians reveal a certain inability to keep pace with a generation that has grown up with a smartphone “at their fingertips.” Their clumsy attempt to adapt to the digital world often appears awkward and desperate, resulting in them seeming out of touch. These endeavors, at times even tedious, tend to make them appear more like social media influencers than authoritative political figures. It becomes clear that this inauthenticity exposes them to ridicule in the eyes of the new generation, undermining their credibility as representatives of significant politics.

In this context, young leaders like Bardella stand out for their ability to maintain effective, composed, and authentic communication, a characteristic that contributes to strengthening their credibility and impact on the new generation of voters. His boldness and understanding of the challenges of the modern world are a call to the importance of embracing new perspectives, while the immobility of the old political guard becomes increasingly evident and outdated.

The Making of Consensus in the Age of TikTok

For Hannah Arendt[2], politics is intimately tied to the possibility of new beginnings. It is in this sphere that our most vivid hope resides: in the hoped-for beginning of a completely unprecedented chapter. A chapter destined to find guidance in the hands of young leaders who not only embrace the challenges of the modern world but fully understand its opportunities.

Young people, immersed in a world of continuous evolution, not only need politics that adapt to their needs but urgently demand authentic representation capable of delving deeply into their challenges and aspirations.

In this framework, it is undeniable that gerontocracy, with its entrenched presence, is unable to offer adequate representation of the new generations. As Rousseau[3] emphasized, the consensus and social contract between generations are fundamental elements for the legitimacy of government. In this spirit, we could paraphrase his ideas, emphasizing that governance always belongs to the generation capable of overturning it.

Mentorship for Young Leaders

Politics, if authentic and meaningful, must serve as fertile ground for fresh ideas and innovative perspectives. It cannot remain a museum of old glories but must transform into a laboratory for a better future. This is where a valuable opportunity lies. Older politicians, now endowed with wisdom and experience, could and should assume the mantle of mentors, guiding the ascent of budding leaders. A passing of the torch, therefore, that would allow the new generation to occupy its space meaningfully.

Politics, as Popper[4] teaches us, is never an exact science but rather an art of compromise. Now is the time for old politics to embrace this idea of compromise, recognizing that the future of both politics and society requires a harmonious synergy between mature wisdom and youthful vision.

Embracing Change

In conclusion, considering politics as a constantly evolving form of art, it is crucial to embrace the idea that change is not only inevitable but also desirable. Now, more than ever, is the right time to enthusiastically welcome the new voices emerging from the shadows of the great leaders, allowing them to lead the way to a new political horizon. It is in this cycle of continuous change that we see the possibility of preserving and improving politics. Gerontocracy, despite its resistance, is destined to merge with the past, while the young generations hold the future of politics.

[1] Niccolò Machiavelli, Discorsi sopra la prima deca di Tito Livio, cit. l. I, cap. 33, Quando uno inconveniente è cresciuto o in uno stato o contro uno stato, è più salutifero partito temporeggiarlo che urtarlo, pp. 128-129

[2] Arendt, Hannah. The Human Condition, University of Chicago Press, 1958.

[3] Rousseau, Jean-Jacques, Du contrat social, Amsterdam, Michel Rey, 1762

[4] Popper, Karl. The Open Society and Its Enemies, Routledge, 1966.

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Communication manager of the Centro Studi Machiavelli. A graduate in International Relations, she is currently pursuing a second degree in Political Science, International Security and Public Communication.