Sunday, May 06, 2007

Round Two

Drinkers were in a resigned mood last night in the bars in the 11th arrondissement, the area of eastern Paris where I live. This is left-wing heartland, composed mainly of immigrants, young people and the old Parisian working-class; it was the last area of resistance to fall when the Commune was crushed in 1871, resulting in the covering-over of the Canal St-Martin from rue Faubourg du Temple as far as Bastille, so that the water could no longer provide a barricade for insurgent areas. Few people are convinced that the miracle will happen tonight where Ségolène Royal unexpectedly overturns the polls that have been giving Nicolas Sarkozy an extended lead in the days since Wednesday's debate. Personally I think it is going to be a lot closer than the polls have been suggesting (most likely 51%-49%) but it is unlikely to be in Royal's favour.

So it seems that all one can do is brace oneself for five years of Sarkozy (and possibly a UMP-dominated parliament). The country is split down the middle on him (though there are some on either side that are horrified by his social policies while being attracted to his economic liberalism - however misplaced that might be). There will be tension in the suburbs tonight, as everyone knows, and it will be largely used to vindicate the Sarkozy vote in the more reactionary and racist reaches of French society. The sad thing is that it will take only a handful of hoodlums to start burning cars and things will begin to spiral down again, and chin-wagging editorialists throughout Europe will deplore this contempt for the dramatic wish of the people - thereby missing the point. Sarkozy was a disaster as Interior Minister, there is no reason to believe he will be any different as President.

As a parting shot here is Irish expat man-about-town Paddy Sherlock's amusing view of a France under Sarkozy (or Tsarkozy as he calls him - a splendid moniker that sums up the tinpot Napoleonic ambitions of the little man): the horrors of bad French music are likely to be all part of the package too:

Avec le Tsar - "Kozy"
Y'aura plus jamais Joey Starr - "Kozy"
Rest'ra que Jean-Michel Jarre - "Kozy"
Et Johnny et sa guitare "Kozy"

(With the Tsar/There'll be no more Joey Starr/Only Jean-Michel Jarre/And Johnny and his guitar)

Very funny stuff, circumstances notwithstanding

On éspère, pourtant.