Friday, November 15, 2013

France: What's Been Going Down

I rarely blog about current events in France unless something big is happening, like an election, or that time strikes were threatening to keep me stuck in The LPV without any gasoline to escape.

This time there isn't one thing happening but a few things that are lending to a strange energy in France, it's as if the air has gone static with discontent, and the mood has not gone unnoticed by the world's media. According to this BBC article, "there is a pre-insurrectional mood in the country." Hmmm... 'pre-insurrectional'... interesting, I wonder if they were saying the same thing back in 1792? Let's break it down.

Disclaimer: I am by no means a current affairs or political expert, I am merely a casual observer and these are my observations.

Racism: Let's get the nastiest out of the way first, shall we? France is having some racial issues at the moment. Here's the deal, in France there is a far-right political party called the National Front or Front National (FN) that due to some of the 'rhetoric' it spews, has an aura of racism surrounding it. Anyway, last month one of their candidates posted a rather racist photo on Facbook likening the black Justice Minister,  Christiane Taubira, to a monkey. Ay yai yai.

Taubira fired back at the FN by saying, “We know what the FN thinks: the blacks in the branches of trees, Arabs in the sea, homosexuals in the Seine, Jews in the ovens and so on.” Ay yai yai.

And then if this wasn't all bad enough, a far-right magazine, put Taubira on it's cover, with the caption, "Clever as a monkey, Taubira gets her banana back" (WTF IS WRONG WITH THESE PEOPLE?!) As you can imagine this has all caused quite the emotional outrage.  Ay yai yai indeed.

Iran: (This one is actually a good thing except for the fact that Iran is now referring to France as 'Little Satan'.) Currently, there is a nuclear agreement with Iran being hammered out and long story short, things seemed to be going swimmingly until France decided it was a bad deal due to different points in the agreement and lack of guarantees and so France put its big boys pants on, and blocked it resulting in this response...

had the courage to prevent a bad nuclear agreement with . Vive la France!

President Hollande: Oh François, François, François, we're not having a good time as of late, are we? France's President has recently been deemed the least popular president in French history and was even booed on Armistice Day as he lay flowers at the tomb of the unknown soldier... that's bad (and very disrespectful)His approval rating has dipped to an all time low of 15% (I wonder what Louis XVI's approval rating was???)Let's think about that for a second, 15%, that's not low, that's crazy low, that's it might be time to quit your job, change your name, dye your hair and move to a new country kind of low. 

One of the driving forces behind Hollande's lack of approval are the taxes (in fairness, he is head of the Parti Socialiste, so I don't know what people thought was going to happen) and let me tell you people, they are OUT OF CONTROL. Put it this way, at my house we got a tax bill last month that is a 120% (no, you didn't read that wrong, not 12%... 120%) increase on last year's same bill and it's due the day after Christmas. It isn't exactly filling me with the Christmas spirit. 

The Red Hats: Back in the 17th century, Bretons (people from Brittany) wore red caps as they protested a stamp tax Louis XIV was imposing. Today, the red hats are out in full force again, this time protesting the eco-tax and let me tell you, they are not messing around. On a lighter note, can I just say, I love that in France, civil unrest is accessorized.

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  1. Mince! Don't you hate when you write a long comment and it disappears? To summarise - I thought the booing on 11 Nov was bad enough, then I learnt it was courtesy of the Manif Pour Tous crowd. Seriously, if they're against him I'm pretty inclined to be for him... And I pay Luxembourg income tax now ;)

  2. I think all those red-hat wearing people are actually Munster supporters.
    Nice of them to pick an Irish team to folllow.

    Seriously, great summary.

  3. Thanks for the update - I'm not keeping up with all this stuff. Too busy disliking our own politicians ;)

  4. Politics, feh ! Wherever you go, there you are. I think that I would just rather be in France right now than where I am , regardless of who is making what inane political statement ..
    Ack! , those people who get elected ... I don't dislike the politicians so much as the morons who voted for them.

  5. There is a huge amount of discontentment in Italy, or Northern Italy at least. The Southern Italians shrug and carry on, with a few less euros at the moment, but many Northerners are moving to other european countries. Some are being a little dramatic I feel. I wonder how people are feeling in Germany, Holland etc?

    Have a great weekend Sara! : ) - Louisa @ My Family & Abruzzo

  6. I really enjoyed this post Sara... I think it is useful and interesting to discuss or learn about the politics and culture of different countries. I studied abroad last year in Aix-en-Provence (August 2012 -- May 2013) so it is kind of surreal to hear about these changes in my old stomping grounds. But it doesn't really surprise me, either. I particularly found the booing of President Hollande and those crazy taxes interesting... in my opinion, 120% tax increase just doesn't seem right. And no matter how much you dislike a President, I don't think booing him or her on Armistice Day is appropriate. It's a day for respect and honour, and remembering our collective past.

    Thanks for writing this post -- I really enjoyed it!

  7. man, monkey comments. what's wrong with these people???
    my dad works in a french oil company so i do get the idea of racism issue in french. sometimes it's still shock me that educated modern people act in the most ancient behaviour, sometimes.

  8. I think my life is much more stress-free due to my laziness when it comes to reading any news beyond The Skimm.

  9. My mouth is hanging open at the mention of these taxes. And due the day after Christmas?! Bah humbug.

  10. One of the reasons I enjoy visiting your blog is that I never just know what to expect! Your posts are so varied. I do like to keep up to date with what's generally going on in France and here we have a great overview. I remember when I lived in France being surprised by the number of strikes. We once arrived at Versailles to find it closed due to a strike. Great post!

  11. You are way more aware of current events in France than I am of those in Britain. I need to start paying more attention.

    The whole boo-ing of President Hollande on Armistice Day is completely disrespectful, and not the least bit surprising considering the way people bash President Obama all over facebook over the new healthcare system. I find it despicable that people would act that way in public, though. Regardless of which party your President belongs to, for God's sake, show a little respect. You don't have to like them, but show a little common decency.

  12. Agree with Miss b above - really enjoy the way you tackle the full range of subjects on this blog. Politics is a tricky one, and all I can say is that our French friends are appalled by the taxes, not least those who would like to create jobs for young people (or anyone, come to that) but find the social tax demands involved are simply prohibitive. Doesn't make sense to me - surely tax breaks to create employment would bring in more revenue in a very short time?

  13. I am following that racism discussion on the news and I really have no idea what is wrong with people right now!

  14. What about the five day school week coming back? Or is that just in parts of France?

  15. The French media are using the racist card to manipulate public opinion so it is diverted from the real problems of the country. Read this to put it in perspective:

    1. Even if the media are using it, it's still a problem.

  16. and this...,41283

  17. Oh wow. I live in a very VERY liberal part of the U.S., and I have never ever seen race, religion, or sexual orientation as an issue where I live (luckily). It blows my mind when I hear that race or religion is an issue anywhere. So, so sad.

  18. I'm sure the beeb's predecessors were carefully writing up with a quill pen what they thought of Louis ;o) Of course now some nutter's shooting the media, obviously he didn't like what they were saying!

  19. Very good overview of the current political situation in France. The tax bill for our house in Sablet has not reached me here in CA so I can't wait to see what bad news it hold for me. Thanks for the warning.

  20. I need blog posts like this to keep me up-to-date on US political ish. This was far more concise and entertaining.


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