Day 19 – I’m exhausted … how must they be feeling?

Back to Basics

Le Pen had a ‘moment of madness’ with her French-Holocaust-Responsibility-Denial. That, coupled with a downward drift in her vote among several pollsters, may have led her, yesterday, to add one additional pledge to top up her 144 Presidential Engagements. Talking at her Paris Zenith meeting, she said: ‘The day after the Election … there will be an immediate moratorium on all legal immigration [except students, she said today] to stop this lunacy, this uncontrolled situation … so as to allow us put in place new rules … and re-establish frontiers’ [massed chants from the Good Old Days (when Le Pen really was Le Pen) of ‘France for the French’]

Le Pen went much further than usual with her hate speech. She said: ‘With me there would have been no Merah (killer of soldiers and Jewish children) a French national because he was born here … With me there would not have been the migrant terrorists of the Bataclan and the Stade de France, they would not have got into our country.’ Vile lies. Contemptible use of murdered people.

This gutter attempt to ‘shore up’ her 1st round vote will hopefully be at the considerable expense of enlarging her 2nd round vote.

Back to the Centre

Yesterday, I joined some 20,000 Macronistas at a filled-to-bursting Bercy (now branded Accor) Stadium – with alleged thousands outside too. An awful lot of what could only be described as very enjoyable ambiance. Loud music, delighted supporters and a great atmosphere. Tho’ 3 warm-up speakers were just two too many … especially when the third was a truly boring Finistèrien ex-Socialist MP: Ferrand had rallied to the Macron cause on Day One and is now Lead Macronista and General Secretary of En Marche.

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Sorry that my little phone just wasn’t quite up to it.

At Fillon’s make or break Trocadero rally (way back on Day 63) I fitted in remarkably well age-wise: not at all inappropriately old. Here, however, I was at least double the average age. Huge numbers of people in their twenties. Great to see at a political rally. Though I have to say it did, at times, have more than something of the feel of a religio-revivalist meeting … not that I have the slightest idea what the latter feels like.

So as not to be outdone by the Fillon/Mélenchon rallies which both now systematically end with La Marseillaise, Macron’s rally managed to get in an additional singing of the anthem in the middle of the meeting too.

[A minor deviation: Something that really struck me yesterday was the uninhibited, near-universal use of the French national flag at Macron’s meetings. For certain Brits (including me) flag-waving has always been rather complicated. In sport there’s the confusing idea that at all football and rugby matches (but not athletics) the ‘national’ team is never the United Kingdom nor Great Britain, but rather one of England, Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland (unless you’re talking rugby when Ireland is transformed into all 32 Counties together). Just because ‘we’ went and ‘invented’ these games, we laid down the Rules, and got ourselves special representation on the governing bodies. Thus there is the continuing absurdity of a country that has, within its borders, several national teams. Further, growing up, the Cross of St George had been hijacked by, and was the preserve of, the ultra-right. So, speaking as someone who believes that he has never in his entire life waved a Union Jack, still less a Cross of St George – never having lined a Royal Route nor been to the Last Night of the Proms – there was something almost bewildering about the uninhibited way in which so many people at yesterday’s Macron rally happily waved their tricolores yesterday … with not too many Euro-flags about it must be admitted. An attempt to show that Macron’s a man of the centre-right? After all, Macron did say that he wanted to take ‘the best of the right, the best of the left and even the best of the centre’ to ‘transform’ the country – so why not flags too?]

Macron started awfully: in the first 35 minutes he’d hardly said a single worthwhile word. All banal platitudes. But then he got into more of a regular stump speech and sounded as though he meant it. One of the better rules that he has at his meetings is the insistence that no-one (from the ‘other’ side) is whistled.

Macron gave a shout out to lots of good names during his speech: Bob Dylan … Jacques Chirac … Lech Walesa … General de Gaulle … and ended by giving us a fine quote from Albert Camus when he accepted the Nobel Literature Prize: ‘Each generation doubtless feels called upon to reform the world. Mine knows it will not reform it, but its task is perhaps even greater. It consists in preventing the world from destroying itself.’

Like Daughter, Like Father

‘These are the candidates. MELENCHON, communist, MACRON, opportunist, FILLON, recidivist. Me? I’m voting MARINE !’ And, with this tweet, Unreconstructed Extreme Right Front National Father announced he would vote for Marginally Reconstructed Front National Daughter.

Saying the same old thing .. (sometimes) in a slightly novel way

  • ‘During the campaign, we’ve run a 110m hurdle race, while everyone else ran 100m flat’ (Abad, Républicain MP)
  • Confusing, simplistic, unreliable (President Hollande’s view of the campaign)
  • ‘Beautiful, good-natured France where every new day is Liberté, Egalité, Fraternité – not the ’19th Century parish’ wanted by Fillon, nor the ‘fidgeting fleabag’ [I don’t get it] proposed by Macron, nor the ‘hate machine’ created by Le Pen.’ (Mélenchon)
  • ‘We’ll win on Sunday and that’ll be the start of a new France’ (Macron)
  • ‘I say to M. Fillon, who really likes beautiful clothes, that the French people will soon present him with a tailor-made electoral suit’ (Mélenchon)
  • Asked by Catholic La Croix if he felt that his having called for ‘exemplary conduct in politics’ was now a ‘burden’, Fillon said: ‘Exemplary conduct is telling the French people the truth about the economic reality of the country and keeping its engagements … A President is not St. Francis of Assisi’. [Religious note: The latter Francis gave up both money and his clothes as part of his vows of poverty]
  • ‘François Hollande’s personal loathing is blinding him. Now I’m at 18% he thinks I stink. But what did he say when Marine Le Pen was nearly at 30%?’ (Mélenchon)
  • Fillon in a Nice tramway tunnel under construction. Asked if he could see any light, Fillon replied: ‘The end of the tunnel is when there’s full employment, when France has re-united and is once again outward-looking’
  • ‘I love [France’s] past, but unlike others I also love its future … [in 6 days it will be] confidence against mistrust, unity against division, generosity against greed … of the 11 candidates, 10 want to take us backwards to an hallucination of the past’ etc etc etc (Macron)
  • ‘If you’ve come out on a Bank Holiday to listen to me on a barge [he was em-barging slowly round the Paris area], you’re as full on as I am’ (Mélenchon)
  • 25 Economics Nobel Prize winners [every one undeniably an ‘expert’] write: ‘Some of us have been quoted by [Presidential candidates], particularly Marine Le Pen and her team, to justify a political programme on the question of Europe … our opinions converge to condemn this exploitation of economic ideas … Anti-European programmes would destabilise France and call into question the cooperation between European countries which today ensures economic and political stability in Europe .. Isolationist, protectionist policies, with competitive devaluations, to the detriment of other countries, are dangerous means of trying to generate growth.’
  • Fillon addressed ‘all the women who are hidden, who are mistreated, who are chosen to be dressed differently in the name of religion … I will fight alongside them to defend their fundamental rights.’

The Undecided

That third (?) of the electorate which may not vote will have one last chance to review their indecision. France 2 will, after all, get to hold its pre-1st Round evening: it won’t be a debate between all candidates, but 11 successive individual interviews, with each person being given an opportunity to raise a chosen subject.

Mélenchon has asked all his supporters ‘to organise drinks parties (apéros) at the end of the week: a party for The People’s Spring, to convince the final recalcritant few with a smile … Campaign Rule N° 1: Finish it all off with joy, intelligence and goodwill’.

 

Sad Socialist Footnote: Hamon is organising a ‘festive’ (really?) get-together tomorrow at the traditional Left gathering-place, République in Paris … plus there will have been the traditional final meeting at Toulouse (Lesson 1: I come to bury the Socialist Party not to praise it) [but this time occurring before Round 1 rather than Round 2]

Opinion polls

 

Elabe (1500 people polled 16-17 April) shows:

  • Macron 24%, Le Pen 23%, Fillon 19.5%, Mélenchon 18%

Kantar-Sofres (1500 polled 14-17 April) shows

  • Macron 24%, Le Pen 23% Fillon 18.5%, Mélenchon 18%

Elabe’s the first pollster to discern a hardening in Round 1 voting intention (68% certain to vote, 14% extremely likely). However, there’s a continuing high refusal by people to state how they would vote in Round 2: between 22 – 36% depending on which two candidates win through to Round 2, thus rendering data (Macron wins against all opponents; Le Pen loses against all; Mélenchon beats both Le Pen and Fillon) still more unreliable than usual.

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