Friday, October 15, 2010

About Those Numbers ...

Counting demonstrators is not easy, and discrepancies between estimates are usually laid to bias. Thus in a recent Paris demo, the police counted 89,000 and the unions 330,000. But according to two independent studies, both were wrong, and both were too high: a Spanish software developer came up with a figure of 80,000, and Mediapart (!), hardly a Sarko-patsy, estimated 76,000 using a less high-tech method. See the video at minute 16 (h/t JV)


Kirk said...

Well it's about time! (I like the way the unions asked journalists to count for themselves. Kind of like with Gary Hart, telling the press to follow him if they think he's fooling around with someone...)

As I said in a comment to an earlier post, I think it was physically impossible to have 5% of the population of France in these demonstrations. You just look at any of the demonstrations compared to the sizes of the cities and you can see.

So now what? The unions can no longer safely claim their outlandish figures. What will they do? They can't go back, though, because if, for the next demonstration, they give a lower figure, they can't say that there are more demonstrators than last time. They're stuck in their own quagmire of lies.

Anonymous said...

I think this demonstrates the need for an independent group in charge of counting.
However the Spanish software counted (if I'm not mistaken) 2 people/M2, when the police itself in Spain and Italy count 4/m2.

As for 5% people in the streeet, well remember to take out all children up to age 15, and people over 75. That still leaves a sizable number of people.
In my area, for example, pretty much everything stopped from 10 till 12 on Tuesday - private companies, businesses, etc. Essentially it felt that 70% of the adult population was on strike. ;)

Linca said...

Shouldn't the word "study" be reserved for something more rigorous than half a dozen journalist in their office ? There are possibly social sciences methods to get a precise estimate... But basic "people counting along the way" is going to be way below.

Anonymous said...

I'd be all in favor of scientific methods led by an independeng, unbiased group.
Unfortunately these may be hard to come by in France these days.

Today has been proclaimed Family Protest Day. As for teenagers, who want to walk on their own with their own posters and friends, they'll be sandwiched between the CGT (which dedicated specific manpower to protect them/rein them in) and the FSU (a variety of teachers' unions.)

(joke I've heard - not sure why "ravioli", perhaps because it vaguely rhymes): Mardi c'est raviolis, samedi c'est manifs:

There was an apparent "upping" of police presence around lycées *in the banlieue*. The boy who was hit in the face by a "flashball" is still in hospital, the town's mayor will sue the guy who shot him, and the Police Prefect henceforth forbade the use of "flashballs" against high school and college students. (Not to mention that flashball-guns -are these what we call "beanbag guns"?- are supposed to be shot from a distance and always with an upward curve movement, so there's an IA investigation pending, too.)

Raymond Soubie said that high school kids *should* be protesting, but in defense of the reform, which will save their pension later on.
Will there be countermarches, like when 15-year old Nicolas Sarkozy protested against the "revolutionary" protests?

Anonymous said...

Le conducteur du métro ligne 9 annonce: "ici c'est la station République, tout le monde descend pour manifester contre la réforme des retraites"
(Kind of like "terminus, terminus, tout le monde descend")

Anonymous said...

A TV mini-series about the closing of a factory, the "social conflict", and its aftermath - very illuminating.
Interviews have been conducted from actual people who lived through factory closings:,61403.php
Commented by women who work for a lingerie company:,61224.php

A key scene commented by the film maker, Gérard Mordillat (who adapted his own novel into the mini-series),61204.php

I wonder how American blue-collar workers/women would react to these scenes, whether they'd relate or strongly recoil.


Anonymous said...

tweeted from the protests by a young man named Jules Praxis
Si la contre-réforme passe, quel acquis social vont-ils détruire ? Les 5 semaines de congés payés ? La sécu ?

Anonymous said...

"Mardi, c'est raviolis" is a sentence from the successful movie "La Vie est un Long Fleuve Tranquille".


Anonymous said...

@Mélanie: but what does it mean in the context of the protests?

Folklore - the modified kindergarten song as protest song. Not quite "we shall overcome".
Il était un petit homme, pirouette cacahouette
Il était un petit homme qui avait une drôle de réforme
qui avait une drôle de réforme
Sa réforme est en carton, pirouette cacahouette
Sa réforme est en carton et ses idées sont toutes pourries et ses idées sont toutes pourries

(I can imagine a puppet skit, with Sarko responding with "Alouette")

Anonymous said...

Smelling bunt toast

TexExile said...

One possible explanation of the discrepancies: les flics are counting people on the street (or trying do so), while the unions are counting all the people who stayed home with their feet up but were basically in sympathy with the protestors...