Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Whither France?

The growing strength of the Front National was vividly driven home to me today. Some years ago, as a result of my blogging, I was contacted by a young Frenchman, a student then 18 or 19 years old, who was a passionate supporter of Ségolène Royal. He intensely disliked Sarkozy and was such a Ségo enthusiast that he ran a Web site devoted to her doings. We would gChat from time to time. It was interesting to me to make contact with this young man from the provinces, quite interested in politics, a little untutored, to judge by his frequent grammatical errors, but reasonably well-informed. Over the past two years or so, he stopped contacting me, and I more or less forgot about him, until today, when he turned up on my screen. I said I recalled his prediction that Sarkozy would lose in 2012, which at the time was by no means a sure bet. And he replied that yes, the Left had won, but he could no longer support the Left because he had gone over to Marine Le Pen. He liked her patriotism, her defense of the French worker, and her strong image, while he disliked the Left's "betrayal" of what he considered to be the traditional values of the Left. I reminded him that he had once been such an admirer of Royal's that he had asked me to pass her a note when she came to Harvard, which I did. He didn't like to recall those days, when he was "naive." Now, having passed his nursing school exams, he plans to apply for a position in the Gendarmerie.

When one reads about the progress of the FN in the abstract, it's one thing. When one sees the effect on a person one knows, however remotely, it's quite another, and actually startling.