French politics: back in my starting-blocks

16 May

Mr. Hollande is the new Tonton

Oh. it reminds me of my high school years. In 1981, in the evening of May 10th, I was on a train going from Bordeaux to Pau, in the south of France, back to boarding-school after spending a week-end at home. One of my school mate was running up and down the train looking for sympathizing faces.

– “He has been elected!”

ImageThat was all we needed. We discretely smiled and cheered. I was very happy. I was too young to vote (or to celebrate) but I felt like “my people” had talked and had been listened to.

We spent the previous weeks arguing over the possibility that François Mitterrand would become the French president.

Le voisin de Latche

Mitterrand, with his interesting and colorful political history, his Vichy past, and other “secrets” like his friendship with a second world war criminal… All this made him, somehow, a romantic reminiscence of the French aristocracy.

Yes, Mitterrand was left-wing, a sort of liberal socialist and yes, he restored the glory of the Socialist party among the left, but he represented what France is all about in my opinion: a large country, an ocean front, an economic power, a linguistic charm, a Latin descent, good wine, strong opinions and great principles. No matter what, no matter what the public opinion says, no matter what the other countries want.
It might be that many of this world’s inhabitants do not understand what it means to be a French citizen, but to us, in our high school years, Mitterrand represented exactly that.

He had strong opinions, was trying to remain a humanist despite all the political turmoil (and be assured, it is impossible to hold high one’s principles while being sucked into the vacuum of power). He got swallowed by history at times, and tried, against all odds, to swim with his personal opinions and loyalties on his head.

Mitterrand, after his election, had to “suffer” working twice with teams of the opposite camp. Would Mr. Sarkozy have managed this tour de force? I doubt it! It took someone like Mitterrand to look at the bigger picture.

The Prince, not the king

Well, let’s not forget that in France, an elected president mostly collects only half the vote bulletins. So, it means that out of roughly 34 million of voters, only around 17 millions and one vote are marching behind the new “prince.” It should not matter if the leader is what he claims to be in the first place: totally bought to France’s interests. Right?

So, good luck Mr. Hollande! You might not have the family name that holds credit for a nation’s great man as was General de Gaulle’s name, but you have been blessed with the first name of our Kermitterrand deity: François, first name of a Frank… you represent the hope that from now on, France’s image and soul will be restored, on the national territory and worldwide… and, no pressure but Florentin will be watching.


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