Damned if you do, and damned if you don’t

Carry On Voting

Thursday night saw a rare moment of solidarity between President and people. 66% pronounced President Macron’s solemn, but stirring, 27-minute TV address (announcing the closure of all schools and universities and a ‘we’ll get through this together’ message) to be ‘convincing’. More rarely still, 71% of those under 35 shared that view.

From where I sat President Macron hit exactly the right tone. Transparent and honest. An adult genuinely led by the science, he would ask the searching questions. In short, the person you’d want leading your country during such a crisis (even if he ungenerously made me an apparently Old, Therefore Vulnerable, Person).

His calls for unity sounded genuine: I thought they were appropriately inspiring.

One measure though aroused some incomprehension. The decision to carry on with the 2 rounds of municipal elections (today and next Sunday).

After consulting all political parties, it had been decided – despite very strong rumours, early Thursday, of a postponement – that democracy trumped coronavirus. What a contrast in the UK. The sole political measure taken by an apparently paralysed Government thus far is the postponement of May’s municipal Elections by a year. France, however, was to Carry On Voting.

It might not have been difficult to foresee complaints about ‘interfering with democracy’ had the decision been taken to delay the Elections.

Quickly, right-wing newspaper Le Figaro revealed that the decision to carry on with the Elections may indeed have been a conservative plot. Gerard Larcher (leader of the Upper House, the Sénat, and leading right wing Républicain politician) had made it clear to the President he would publicly denounce and reject any delay in the Elections.

Could Larcher possibly see electoral advantage for Les Républicains in getting the vote out in the middle of a pandemic? Is Paris worth several accelerated Masses?

Not everyone is Carrying On Voting

Abstentionists will form the largest party. Indeed they should almost certainly have a thumping overall majority.

By 5pm, only 39% had voted (on a gloriously sunny day almost everywhere). In 2014, 55% had gone to the polls by then. Pollster Ipsos estimates the final voting figure at 44% (while in 2014 over 63% voted). That will render calculations of likely ultimate winners of municipalities still more uncertain. Here comes the horse-trading.

The police still just don’t seem to get it

How much might voting (or more likely abstention) be affected by events like this.

Allô Place Beauvau is a shout-out to the Interior Ministry about injuries apparently caused by the police during gilets jaunes protests. Created by journalist David Dufresne, there’ve been 897 shout-outs. In mid-January, footage showed someone apparently ‘controlled on the ground’ … but still receiving several vigorous blows.

The running total of gilets jaunes-related ‘injuries’ in which the police have been involved is now 2 deaths, 327 head injuries, 27 eyes lost, 5 hands blown off.

A further recent death ‘involving’ the police concerned a 42 year old delivery man. Arrested in early January after a roadside stop, Cedric Chouviat died 2 days later. His death by asphyxiation (following his larynx being fractured) is now under investigation as involuntary manslaughter. Part of the ‘problem’ may have been that Chauviat was trying to film the arresting police.

For days after his death, Government appeared to accept problems had arisen from an over-muscular approach by certain police officers. However, following stern police union reminders, a more efficient means may have emerged as to a practical way of reducing so much possibly wasted time trying to find out what actually occurred during such incidents.

Not so many citizen journalists would help for a start. Less film, less problems. Well-informed online anti-establishment investigative website Mediapart reported that Interior Minister Castaner had ordered a review into controlling the right to film police action on the street, possibly compelling the blurring of film of all police officers.

‘Switch that off’ could yet become the policing order of the day

In other police news, The Boys in Blue decided to participate in what appears to be increasingly-traditional fashion in a women’s march which had been entirely peaceful. In Paris, the night before International Women’s Day, feminists were marching. The march ended later in the evening than planned. But police turned up mob-handed, blocked the march and vigorously cleared out a Metro station in a ‘totally disproportionate’ manner. Socialist Mayor of Paris, Anne Hidalgo, tweeted her ‘shock’ at the police using ‘unacceptable and incomprehensible violence’.

Something Completely Different

There are clearly several ways to keep your spirits up during these difficult times.

Madrid applauded its health workers from windows when Spain’s State of Emergency was declared

Meanwhile Italian balconies have music: several lovely examples thanks to Vox

Regrettably, thus far, no evidence of an equivalent French musical contribution.

Allez les Bleus: where are your voices and instruments?

One thought on “Damned if you do, and damned if you don’t

  1. It’s hard to argue I think that local elections with a turnout of 44% is ‘democracy trumping coronavirus’. Rather the other way round I would suggest.
    I’m sure that Macron would have loved to adopt the approach of the ‘apparently paralysed’ UK government to avoid the spanking LREM looks sure to get had he been able to get away with it.
    I do agree though he seemed genuine in his ‘address to the Nation’ but whether ‘genuine’ equates to competence and convincing the ‘Peuple’ that his approach will work remains to be seen.
    Btw he labelled me ‘Old’ as well.


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