After a winter cold day, went around the corner to the Bastille to the gathering celebration for official 8 pm announcement of Francois Hollande’s victory. The crowd was estimated at 10,000 to 20,000 by the media. Didn’t look that enormous, but big enough, roaring at mysterious cues, waving flags, banners reading ‘Screw the Rich…’ hoisting excited children on their shoulders, eating hot dogs, drinking wine and beer. A mostly twenty-something crowd with old lefties mixed in. French law forbids listing race in the census but here’s the scan from the Bastille tonight–representatively mixed: Arab and Asian, Black and White. Hope and solidarity.
Plenty of flag colors too: flat red Communist, green Eco party… wait, who won this election? Not many French flags. Hollande was holed up hours away in his base of Correzes with his close associates. Giant screens broadcast the TV coverage. Folks might as well have stayed home. President Sarkozy appeared on the giant screens with a giant bowed head. Stating responsibility for defeat and wishing the people of France well. The people went nuts with rage, they hooted at every sentence. Jeered. Pumped thumbs down fists. ‘Get lost, you c..t.’ A group of women started chanting ‘Sarko au prison! Sarko au prison!’ The still-President on the screen continued his apologia.
Plus ca change, plus c’est la meme chose. Someone said tonight, ‘The French are still living in the 18th century.’ Talleyrand might have nodded. Victory horns are tooting, police and ambulance sirens surge waa-waa through the street crowds at midnight on their unknown rendez-vous. Election night fever. Kids who grew up under Sarko believe the bluebird of happiness has alighted in France. Couples are making out elaborately, in celebration. All will be well. The future is ours.