Heron Island, Great Barrier Reef, Australia

Sunday 15 May 2016

Parisian politics

I wouldn't have expected the London local elections to feature very highly on the news agenda in France, but it certainly appeared in the TV news headlines, and in at least one fairly high profile studio discussion programme (at about the time of day when British channels show soaps, magazine shows and house-and-garden makeovers). For over an hour, a solemn panel of experts and journalists (among them two British correspondents who more than held up their own in French) chewed over the significance of the son of an immigrant Muslim bus-driver being elected. The fact of his also being a party loyalist with a fairly solid, if uninspiring, record as a dependably safe pair of hands as an MP and government minister rather seemed to take second place.

If anything, the French experts rather played down their own country's record of relative diversity - both the present mayor of Paris and the Prime Minister were born elsewhere (albeit only next door in Spain, but all the same....). An interesting example of priorities came when asked if something similar could happen in France: the French experts all looked a bit doubtful and someone said something like "Well, there've been a couple of Muslim ministers", as though that didn't really count.

Meanwhile, I passed by the Place de la République one afternoon. Traditionally the place for protest meetings, it's recently been taken over by overnight encampments, mainly protesting about controversial current proposals for changes to the labour laws.

In the daytime, however, there weren't many people around, some viewing the palimpsest of memorials for the terrorist attacks, of protest slogans and banners, and a small group of people protesting that "Public space is not for sale" (relating to what in particular, I didn't stay to find out). Otherwise, there were a few stalls set up, some to promote particular causes, but one advertising boxing classes: though the demonstrative presence of riot police parked up in the surrounding streets might suggest a more political motive for that too.

1 comment:

  1. Americans are very ignorant of politics everywhere but France is a clueless place of most.