Friday, April 21, 2017

France In Transition Mode

"Polls don't mean anything anymore."
"The polls were wrong in the U.S. and in Britain because people do not openly register how they vote in secret."
"Nobody can predict what will happen next here."
Christophe Szczurek, deputy mayor, Henin-Beaumont, France, National Front member

"Marine is superb. We give too much to foreigners when we, the French, have needs, too."
"Every time we complain about terrorism, they say we are racists."
Marie Vasteene, 29, Henin-Beaumont, France

"I am a member of the National Front and I am not ashamed of it."
"I don't like foreigners who do not respect France."
Danielle Parsy, 69, Henin-Beaumont, France

"We need change. That is clear."
"But the more I hear from Marine the less I like her. I do not like her connection to Vladimir Putin."
"And with everything [the National Front] have produced before, I don't want their extremism."
Regina Godar, 53, beauty salon operator, Henin-Beaumont, France

"Everyone who wants power tells us stories. Will Marine be any different?"
"All we know is that she is not Francois Hollande. I am not really with her but with everything that has happened we do not know really who to vote for."
Beatire Dey, 61, Henin-Beaumont, France
Pictured is armed police crowded two other officers, believed to have been shot in the attack, on Champs Elysees on Thursday night
Pictured is armed police crowded two other officers, believed to have been shot in the attack, on Champs Elysees on Thursday night   Mail Online

A one-hour, high-speed train trip from Paris, the city of Henin-Beaumont, population 27,000 has become a faithful base for the National Front's Marine Le Pen. Its mayor, enormously popular himself, ranks as the head of a municipal council dominated by the Front. They are all regarded by Parisian business, cultural and media elite as fascist and xenophobic; they are miles apart on the political spectrum though geographically close.

This same city up to a decade earlier voted 60 percent for the socialists and 20 percent for the communists. Since then it has chosen the anti-immigrant, anti-European Union and anti-globalization platform of the National Front. In the upcoming general election in France, the Front is expected to be the recipient of at least 60 percent of the ballots cast by diehard supporters. Those in the know feel that Marine LePen may very well win on the first ballot. Much, perhaps can be explained by its 19 percent unemployment, double the national average.

It is in the subsequent vote that betting has it that Le Pen will have competition from progressive independent reformer Emmanuel Macron, or alternately a candidate who has begun to surge, hardline communist Jean-Luc Melenchon. France's dalliance with the left has come to a scudding halt. Le Pen has made this city her political base. Its coal mines closed 40 years earlier, its factories have closed since then with jobs exported to Central Europe and the Far East, events that polarized the residents and then popularized the National Front.

 The residents are themselves of mixed origin. Turkish heritaged Hasibe Lesieux feels a strong option to vote for Le Pen: "We feel the tension here between Muslims and the rest of society and Marine looks strong and approachable", she explained. A Muslim from Algeria, now a beat policeman feels a personal pull for Le Pen since "she is the only one  brave enough to take on terrorists and immigrants from the Middle East."

And France keeps getting reminded that terrorists and immigrants from the Middle East threaten the Republic and its pride in secular equality. The disequilibrium between native French-French and the immigrant Muslim French population with its ghettoizing penchant and hostility toward French secularism and white privilege has created a society within the greater society. The immigrant society is one of suspicion and resentment, blame and hostility. From among whose festering ills arise volunteers for jihad.

The latest attack by a man known to authorities whose previous attempts to kill police had him imprisoned for fifteen years where, authorities like to say, he was 'radicalized', as though he hadn't been sufficiently 'radical' previous to incarceration, has repeated a pattern of vengeance against the society that accepted him before he turned on it. Security forces are everywhere in Paris in response to the deadly Islamic extremist assaults in the past several years.

The voting public is tired of the vigilance required of them, the everpresent fear of yet another attack unfolding when they least expect it, the tension of life among millions of alienated and threatening immigrants who fail to appreciate the opportunities they have been granted to blend into an equality-driven society where advancement and prosperity are there to be had for the motivated. The situation that has overtaken France reflects a pattern seen throughout Europe.

It must be happening for some good reason.

Labels: , , , ,

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home

Follow @rheytah Tweet