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...
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.