Monday, May 8, 2017
If France Thinks They Dodged A Disaster, They Will Be Proven Wrong
social issues are obviously the main ones, but it’s critical also to have a government with completely new political figures.”
‘Best of a Bad Situation’
Macron represented his own
upstart political party, En
Marche!–translating to “Let’s
go!” or “forward!” in English–
which he formed in April 2016
as a vessel for his maverick
presidential campaign. He does
not have the backing of a major
political party in France’s
National Assembly, which
could make it hard for him
to pass his agenda.
Security measures at the foot of the Eiffel Tower on Sunday. (Photo: Nolan Peterson/The Daily Signal)
“We’re not celebrating, we’re not
popping open the champagne,”
Olivier Dartigolles, spokesman
for the French Communist Party,
said in a statement to the press
on Sunday evening. “Millions
of people must feel trapped.
Emmanuel Macron was elected
Macron’s victory was, however,
a landmark defeat for far-right,
anti-immigration, anti-EU parties
across Europe—as well as for t
he Kremlin’s machinations to
fund and support those parties
to weaken its perceived Western
“This was the best of a bad
situation, but at least the only
person more disappointed
than Le Pen right now is
Russian President Vladimir
Putin,” Coffey said.
“It’s certainly a loss for
Russia, and thus good news,”
Tenzer said. “But no one can
be reassured with the National
Front catching 35 percent of
The National Front, the party
of Le Pen, is a controversial
political force in France. Its
founder, Jean-Marie Le Pen
(Marine Le Pen’s estranged
father), was notorious for his
his calling the Nazi gas
chambers of the Holocaust
a “detail” of history.
Yet, many French voters—
35 percent of them—were
willing to overlook the
National Front’s checkered past and dubious ties to Moscow to upend France’s political and economic status quo.
“I’m for Le Pen,” Regis Aernouts, an antiques dealer in Paris’ Sixth Arrondissement told The Daily Signal on Saturday. “I’m not racist, but I think she would be best for the country. We live in a bubble here in Paris. It is, I think, like what happened in America when you elected Trump. People living in Washington and New York didn’t know what was happening in the rest of the country. It’s the same here in France.”
In Paris on Sunday, tourists passed through airport-style security barriers to approach the foot of the Eiffel Tower. Armed army fire teams, clad in body armor and with assault rifles slung across their chests, patrolled among the crowds. News teams from around the world were set up with the Eiffel Tower in the background as reporters rehearsed their stand-ups for election day reports.
Up the river at the Musée d’Orsay art museum, which contains works by Vincent van Gogh, Claude Monet, and Paul Cézanne, people waited for hours in a line that zigzagged around the block before it trickled through metal detectors and X-ray machines at the museum’s entrance.
This was a bellwether day for French democracy, and the fears of a terrorist attack were high.
On the Avenue des Champs-Élysées, a makeshift memorial stands at the spot where, on April 20, an Islamist militant killed French police officer Xavier Jugelé. Within a mound of collected flowers are handwritten notes, candles, and pictures of Jugelé.
A memorial for French police officer Xavier Jugelé, who was killed by an Islamist militant on the Avenue des Champs-Élysées on April 20. (Photo: Nolan Peterson/The Daily Signal)
The memorial is remindful of the ones that went up on the Promenade des Anglais boardwalk in Nice after a deadly terrorist attack in July 2016, or in front of the Bataclan nightclub in Paris after a terrorist attack, which left 89 dead, in November 2015, or in front of the Paris offices of the French satirical magazine in January 2015 after another lethal terrorist attack.
On this day, election day, the sidewalks of the Champs-Élysées were packed almost shoulder-to-shoulder with pedestrians. At the memorial at the site of Jugelé’s murder, a small group of passers-by paused to silently and reverently consider what had happened here a little more than two weeks ago.
Passers-by pause at the site where French police officer Xavier Jugelé was killed by an Islamist militant on the Avenue des Champs-Élysées. (Photo: Nolan Peterson/The Daily Signal)
Meanwhile, as unaware tourists marched past, a bullet hole remained in a nearby light pole.
It reminded this correspondent of the top of Institutskaya Street in central Kyiv, Ukraine (now renamed Heroes of the Heavenly Hundred Street) where bullet holes remain in light poles from the 2014 revolution, evidence of when government snipers gunned down protesters in the waning days of deposed pro-Russian President Viktor Yanukovych’s regime.
A bullet hole remains on a light pole on the Avenue des Champs-Élysées from an April 20 attack by an Islamist militant. (Photo: Nolan Peterson/The Daily Signal)
Scars of violence on the streets of Kyiv and Paris—reminders, in both places, of the thin veneer that separates civilization from chaos. A dividing line, which is growing thinner in capitals across Europe.
“France will remain divided after the election,” Marco said from Le Saint Germain cafe. “This election will change nothing.”