Monday, May 08, 2017

French Election

So, we were in France for the big election on Sunday. Emmanuel Macron versus Marine Le Pen.
Le Pen was the anti immigrant candidate who wanted to pull France from the EU.
Macron is a young 39-year-old who has never held office before and who started his own party, En Marche! That translates to something like "Forward!"
Since we're here, I should be able to tell you about marches and gatherings, maybe protests.
But France has a media blackout 24 hours before the election and the day of the election, so people didn't even know from the news media that Macron's emails had been hacked by Russia. The media isn't allowed to make predictions or to talk about the turnout or who people are voting for.
We were in Aix en Provence then traveled back to this small town near Montpellier, and we never saw anyone voting, but apparently they did with an 80% turnout. I know that our friends in Nantes said they needed to be home on Sunday to vote.
Apparently, there isn't early voting or absentee voting, but people can sign a paper allowing someone else to cast their ballot. That seems a little sketchy to me.
So throughout the day, no one acted like anything different was happening. I'm thinking, "Aren't you all worried? We thought Hilary was going to win and she didn't."
But the French seemed pragmatic. They said that the margin was very great, and Marine Le Pen wouldn't win, couldn't win. That's what I thought about Hllary!
Since it was a Sunday, many places were closed. Around the time the election results were due, we wandered to a bar across the street to see if they were serving food. The place was crowded, mostly with men tipping back beer and chatting with the bartenders. The men spilled out onto the patio as well. Maybe they always gather there Sunday evening, but maybe they wanted to be with other Frenchman for the election results.
They sent us down the street to the pizza place for food. There, the projection television sent a picture onto the entire wall.
Television counted down to 8 p.m., when the polls would close, as soon as the polls closed, they projected that Macron had won 65.5 percent to 34.5 percent. The rest of the program was just showing people celebrating and Le Pen's concession speech. After about half an hour, the restaurant changed the channel to a French MTV station.
I tried to tell from the look on the chef's face or the waiter's face to see if they were happy or disappointed. No luck.
People came in and gathered four pizzas to go. Maybe they're celebrating Macron's win, I whispered to Earl.
Then another group came in and carried out eight pizza. "No, maybe they're celebrating."
We'll never know. No one gave any outward sign of being happy or being dejected.
We didn't even hear a cheer or a groan erupt from the bar down the street.
Learning that Macron won left us with a sigh of relief. We would hate to move from Trump's America to Le Pen's France.
Luckily for us, Macron is now inviting Americans to France. We might take him up on it.


Anonymous said...

Le Pen is particularly strong in the south, around Marseille. The mayor of B├ęziers is an FN supporter. If you didn't hear anything, it's probably because the crowd was not surprised Le Pen lost, though her loss was by even more than the 20 percentage points predicted.
Not too many people were enthusiastic about Macron. He's seen as the least bad of unpleasant options. A lot of what he says makes sense, but the devil is in the details.

Paulita said...

Ugh, don't ruin Beziers for me! I just get the feeling most Le Pen supporters are racist

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