‘People of the Left’ rejoice at Parisian soirées (JERUSALEM POST) By JOSEPH STRICH JERUSALEM POST CORRESPONDENT 05/08/12)
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PARIS – This spring, “the people of the Left” emerged from the dark
clouds and are now in Seventh Heaven following the victory of their
candidate François Hollande on Sunday night.
On Monday the title “The Norm,” on the front page of the daily paper
Liberation, was a dual reference: An admiring yet critical
description of the man from Corrèze – a region in central France. He
is considered to be “a simple rural man” as opposed to the Impetuous
Nicolas Sarkozy, as the title of the latest biography written by
Catherine Nay describes him.
Hollande was viewed as the normal candidate for the presidential
election, or “the honest man,” an expression used on TV on Sunday
The implication lasted throughout the whole campaign and in the end
helped Sarkozy’s opposing candidates.
Dominique Strauss-Khan, who possesses stamina and political savvy,
may have beaten Hollande in the primary if not for his criminal
allegations in New York.
Out of nowhere, the “apparatchik” from the Socialist Party appears –
the one described as “spineless,” a wet rag, before the first round
of the elections. He then defeated Super-Sarko, the unpopular
“The incredible revenge of the “normal” candidate; a push from
destiny” wrote the daily paper Le Parisien.
Hollande’s left-wing political philosophy may surprise those
acquainted with his biography, as his father affiliates with the far-
Some speculate that Hollande won not due to merit but as the lesser
of two evils.
The Socialist Party has won the presidential elections twice since
1954: François Mitterrand in 1981 and his reelection in 1988. The
Left held a majority in the assembly until 2002.
The Socialists now hope to achieve a parliamentary majority during
legislative elections scheduled for June 10th and 17th. A victory in
the upcoming poll would provide a strong mandate for the party.
But many French consider the presidential election as “the mother” of
all voting since it is the structure around which everything hangs.
According to political pundit Roland Cayrol, “when a party loses the
main election, their voters stop fighting and do not go to the next
Laurent Fabius, former Socialist prime minister and a frontrunner for
the Foreign Ministry portfolio, compared the present situation to
“There are lots of analogies,” Fabius said. “We will remember May 6,
2012 as long as we have remembered May 10, 1981. It is such a long
time, far too long. We expected this victory.”
Jack Lang, another former Socialist minister waxed poetic.
“The first time is like love, it is the first time. At the same time,
the first time does not make sense if there isn’t a second time. It’s
going to be a night of delight,” Lang said.
Many left-leaning politicians and activists anticipated the victory
and used the day as an excuse to celebrate in the streets.
As a correspondent, I’m used to vast Parisian rallies –
demonstrations with overflowing crowds between the Republique Metro
station and La Nation Metro station. I saw many rallies during the
campaign at la Concorde, at Trocadero, at Vincennes.
In Tulle, Hollande’s hometown, revelers played “la Vie en Rose” by
Edith Piaf and quoted the lyrics, as ‘the night of a rosy glow of
The crowd shouted to him, demanding “a kiss, a kiss,” as he stood
alongside his companion Valerie Trierweiler.
Also last night, hundreds of thousands crowded into Place de la
Bastille to celebrate and initiate a new chapter for French politics.
The French people are suffering, affected by the economic crisis.
Expectations sounded grandiose, almost unrealistic.
Later at La Bastille, Hollande said, “I am the president of the youth
of France. You are more than a nation who has chosen a change; you
are also a trend of opinion rising in Europe and maybe in the world.”
For most, the party occurred at home, with family or friends for a
dinner of “soirée electorale.” I attended two, one for a Sunday
afternoon “goûter,” the other, a proper “soirée,” with gourmet food,
champagne and expensive red wine.
At the “goûter” I visited, guests spoke freely, in an animated
manner. One friend shouted, “we will get rid of Sarko!” Another
colleague folded herself in a red flag before leaving to
vote. “Hollande is the least bad,” she said.
Two others walked to la Bastille well before the rally and bombarded
me with text messages to express their optimism – they even bumped
into aspiring politician Eva Joly.
I left as well, to go to my friend Claire Vieille’s “soirée.” She
voted for Hollande but is not fond of his persona.
Her friend, Emmanuel, is the lone Sarkozyite among the crowd. He is
sickened by the gossipers in Parisian cafes.
“Sarkozy may have diverted money from some online poker game with the
singer Patrick Bruel,” one rumor stated. “He may have had Gaddafi
killed because he may have given 50 million for his campaign in 2007!
He may be a dictator, becoming a little Napoleon.”
Emmanuel tells me all this before saying that he is a descendant of
Masséna, a Field Marshall of Napoléon Bonaparte.
I furiously scribble notes before returning to the party. The TV
blared the results, unfolding a portrait of Hollande on the
screen. “Hurray!” shout the guests as they raise their toasts, the
champagne flowing freely.
One onlooker says, “let the Red Flag fly over Neuilly,” referring to
Sarkozy’s electoral stronghold and hometown.
Another finds Sarkozy’s “chasing after the voters of the National
Front unworthy of the republic and democracy.”
Claire’s 12 year-old-son, a composed and calm kid, sums up the
“Change is good, but now Hollande has to prove himself up to it,” he
“We changed president, it is a strange feeling,” says a friend of
I am reminded of a quote by Asterix the Gaul, that “the French are
all mad.” (© 1995-2011, The Jerusalem Post 05/08/12)
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