Elections in France: A cold ceremony to celebrate Macron’s victory | International
It was the image that Emmanuel Macron dreamed of for years. He, victorious, with the Eiffel Tower and the endless sky of Paris behind him. He did not achieve it five years ago because the mayor of Paris, Anne Hidalgo, refused to give him the Champ de Mars to celebrate his electoral victory. Now, re-elected, the defeated socialist mayor cannot deny him anything. Despite the festive occasion, Macron declared himself aware that difficult times are ahead. “These are tragic times,” he said in his speech. And he wasn’t just referring to the war in Ukraine. The president obtained 58.3% of the votes, according to the count of the Ministry of the Interior with 99% counted.
Not many French presidents have chained two mandates. The founder of the Fifth Republic, Charles de Gaulle; the socialist François Mitterrand; the Gaullist Jacques Chirac and the liberal Emmanuel Macron. The re-elections, however, exude little enthusiasm. Especially when they are as sung and discounted as Macron’s. And that was noticeable on the night of the second triumph. There were few people (about two or three thousand people) on the great Parisian esplanade and little euphoria. Let’s say that the celebration detracted from such a beautiful setting.
Emmanuel Macron arrived after 9:30 p.m. and approached the stage with parsimony, walking slowly (you had to evoke his majestic solitary march five years ago around the Louvre pyramid) and greeting each other. The fourth movement of Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony was playing. As Macron had not just arrived on stage, music had to be repeated.
The organizers mobilized the youth of La Republique en Marche and strategically placed the boys on a relatively narrow strip of land, between the stage and the cameras. Each one was given an electoral poster and a couple of flags.
On the screen a crowd seemed to stir and hundreds of French and European flags waved. In reality, the atmosphere was more peaceful, even though the speakers had thundered with disco music for a long hour to liven up the wait to which the president subjected his faithful. A couple was walking their dog near the stage, which gives an idea of the spaces available.
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Macron delivered a short speech, which was unusual for him, and content, which was equally unusual. The margin of victory was more or less loose, but France’s mood was not for fuss. And the president was aware of it. He knew that many of his votes were cast by voters eager to curb the extreme right. He knew that to his left and to his right, frustration abounded. And he knew that abstention had been unusually high.
“I will be the president of all,” he promised. That is always said. Then he was more specific: he assumed the duty of “providing answers” to the anger of the French who had shown their discontent by voting for Marine Le Pen. As always when he names his great rival, Macron silenced the whistles of the public: “We must respect those who think differently,” he said.
It was a strange night. The clouds that were covering the night sky of Paris seemed to contain something more than steam. There was something ominous in the atmosphere, despite the smiles of the Macronist kids. Macron has been re-elected president of a country full of “doubts and divisions”, in his own words, and he will not have a hundred days of grace. Actually, not one.
While Macron was speaking in front of the Eiffel Tower, in Les Halles, in the heart of the capital, the police fired tear gas grenades at groups of far-rightists furious with the result. They demanded Macron’s resignation. It was a simple disturbance, perhaps significant. As soon as the re-elected president finished his speech, the people dispersed in silence. As if nothing had happened.
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