Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Liberté, Egalité, Fraternité

In eleven days time it’s the French Presidential Elections. I suppose it’s in my head because before turning off my TV last night I did that procrastination thing. You know there is nothing on, you really want to do something else, but you zap anyway. So, the last images were a quick flash about the number of undecided voters there were in France. I can’t remember what the percentage of undecided voters was but it was enough to send a chill down my spine and bring back memories of April 2002.

Now I don’t really understand how voting works in France, so anything I tell you hereafter might be completely wrong. About a million and five people put themselves forward as potential presidential candidates, honestly. In 2002 I thought that Olivier Bescancenot was representing Post Men. Having once done a temporary job as a post woman I had a little soft spot for the young presidential candidate who was actually representing the Communist Revolutionary League. Still, he didn’t have a hope in hell and most people were expecting Jacques Chirac and Lionel Jospin to romp through to the second round quite easily. The problem was that Chirac was a crook (having been accused of stealing a fair amount of money out of the French coffers when he was mayor of Paris) and Jospin was a kook; the left in France was a mess. I remember watching those percentage bars that reminded me of the points bar in Going for Gold and realising that something was seriously wrong; Jospin was behind Jean-Marie Le Pen.

And so the rest as they say is history. On the 1st May I and tens of thousands of others marched ... somewhere. This is terrible but I can’t remember where. All I can remember was that there were thousands and thousands and thousands of people and we were so far at the back of the march that it took us something like three hours to amble past the starting point. It wasn’t a happy march, it was grim and determined. I for one was questioning what the fuck I was doing living in this country.

I still do. France is a seriously screwed up country; it’s racist, elitist and has an entrenched class system that no amount of revolutions has got rid of. I think I’ve finally decided that I don’t agree with ‘laicite’ law that was reintroduced meaning that as a secular country no religious symbols should be worn in schools. I don’t believe that we change opinions by making everybody the same. You may not be wearing a veil, but if you have an Arabic name it doesn’t matter if you were born in Saint Denis, Ile de France, France, because that still means that the job or the apartment will go to sweet little Amelie. If you went to a Grand Ecole your future is made. And don’t tell me that the competitions to get into university make everyone equal, in the words of Billy Bragg the French are ‘victims of geography’, everything in this country is centred around Paris.

But... I think if we sit down and examine any country long enough we can draw up a list of faults as long as our arms. France needs a big shake up, tension here is riding high, and only a few weeks ago there was a riot at the Gard du Nord because a man was stopped for not paying his fare. I’m not sure that voting is the answer, but it’s the voice we’ve been given for the moment, so I hope all those undecided people make their mind up soon.

I did a quiz on the Le Monde website this morning and it turns out that if I could vote here my politics are closest to José Bové the McDonald smashing GM crop destroying politician! And the Greens and the Communist Party, it was all level pegging really but I figured Bové was the best known figure!

The pictures are of Segolene Royal and Nicolas Sarkozy the two main candidates in the Elections. Francois Bayrou is also a contender and a whole smattering of Left wing candidates that will make sure that the vote is well and truly split.


apprentice said...

Good piece V. I think France seems almost like two nations, Paris and the rest, a bit like London is becoming here in the UK - both are huge world cities who have more in common with each other than their own nations.

Susan Abraham said...

Hi V,
I don't think Segolene of the Socialist Party is in the lead though. She'e been accused of having no main strategy. The other picture you placed..of Nicolas...he's one of the favourites, isn't he.

Verilion said...

Yeah, the problem with nation cities though is that they become isolated and have nothing to do with the rest of the country. One of the differences in the UK though is that London isn't the only city. I think UK and think London, Manchester, Birmingham, Liverpool, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Cardiff (and promptly piss off everybody who lives in every other city I haven't mentioned). These are all places that have made their name in the world. Spain I think Madrid and Barcelona (and the Basques would like you to think Bilboa and that bit of France they want) but in France Paris is it. I hadn't even considered that France had a second biggest city until I was told it was Lyon. Anyway I'm waffling...

Now Susan, yep Sarkocop is unfortunately one of the favourites. And Royale is a bit of a disaster. In the end I think people will vote tactically rather than in what they believe in because they don't want the same outcome as five years ago. Which unfortunately leaves Sarko with many repressive policies and an ability to ignore the burning cars before him, Royale, a royal flake or Bayrou, who's smart enough to pull it off.

Atyllah said...

Hmm, I suspect that if you look closely you'll find that most countries are right up there with France. Seems humanity suffers from a common problem - they're all greedy, corrupt, barking-mad, controlling and power-hungry.
As Granny Were says, human governments are the greatest practical joke humanity has ever played on itself.

Verilion said...

I have to say Atyllah I suspect Granny Were is right. I also agree with you in that there are big problems EVERYWHERE. Are you sure though that ALL humanity is greedy, corrupt, controlling and power-hungry? Me included? (Notice I left out barking mad, I accept that one with dignity!)


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