Be Careful What You Envy


(photo: still from documentary by Laurent Grasso, ‘Les Elysees,’ Galerie Perrotin)

Only yesterday, wandering in a chilly Seine mist on the day of D. Trump’s press conference, PdV comtemplated a riff on ‘voter envy.’ As an American, how can one not envy the French electorate? By all accounts, they’ll face an embarrassment of riches next May, when a packed presidential field will be led by three experienced, upstanding candidates, each presenting a program that has distinct strengths.Francois Fillon, a conservative economic reformer noted for sober hard work and a Catholicism that comprises compassion, was the surprise sweepstakes winner of the LR (les Republicains) primary, stifling Sarkozy’s comeback hopes. The recent prime minister Manuel Valls, a bullish left-centrist, is favored to carry the tattered standard of the Socialists. (That said, no one bets a centime on the PS’s post-Hollande chances.) Emmanuel Macron, former minister of Economy and current leader of the movement En Marche, another economic reformer and rousing pro-European, is inspiring growing crowds. What could possibly go wrong?

Quick time out for the boring stuff:

French elections take place as two ‘rounds’ (tours). In the first, sort of a free-for-all, the electorate gets to let off steam; there is a degree of protest voting. Normally, round two comes down to the two leaders of round one. (Evidently, the combinations of possibilities can be prodigious. Was the system designed to hone France’s vaunted math superiority?) The round two choice can be hard: in 2002, in order to defeat Jean Marie LePen, the left held its collective nose and voted for Jacques Chirac, trading outright racism for years of stagnation.

Whew. Back to tomorrow. So what could possibly go wrong? Well, only this morning a new poll puts Marine LePen, Daddy’s girl of the far right, in solid first place coming out of the first round—ahead of Fillon. Ah, but not to worry—Fillon, according to the same poll, will take round two. So, nothing to worry about! Unless you recall with a shiver the polls that assured us of Clinton’s victory, whilst a certain beast lumbered toward Bethlehem.

News flash on the radio: Marine LePen is heading for New York, staying at Trump Towers. A DT spokesperson says there will not be a meeting. Also, I have a pineapple ranch in Alaska to sell you…

One of PdV’s favorite things in January… the fragrance of sharp-sweet balsam wafting from the Christmas tree cemeteries in the parks.


A note looking forward: PdV will take part the Paris Women’s March, on January 22. To be sure to receive the next report, Follow on the home page—it’s one click.


  1. Envious of the French, who have respectable candidates, with the exception of the repulsive LePen. Yesterday we Yanquis endured His Pariahship’s “press conference,” a display of childish pique and mendacity the likes of which one rarely sees. If he is “fit for office” then I’m a Hottentot.

  2. Bonne année Maristed. It is always interesting to read your point of view on France.
    (Let us hope for the best in May)
    And may the bl..dy cold reced soon over there.
    (PS school uniforms? Want to see that) 😉

  3. I will hope French voters shows better sense than those in my country or Great Britain. I will think of you as I march on January 21.

  4. william-michael costello · · Reply

    I said in the last round FN will loose, but not in the first. The French calm down after the first round. In Germany, although it will be close, we will stay with the Große Koalition. Most voters know there is no alternative for Mutti. One problem, will there be a terrorist attack right before the elections? If so , that will derail the whole train. A note to Pres. Twitter, a handfull of rational senators will decide how far this moron can go. Let’s hope they think twice before voting.

    1. All the world wants a Mutti. What a force! Not perfect, so much the better. As for the US, my fear is that the raving Twit be dethroned, whereupon the more intelligent and malicious Pence/Cruz agenda will have an open road. (I imagine that camp is not blind to the opportunity.)

  5. One word response, to be repeated until we realize how utterly scammed and harmed we have all, already been. And shall be…again. What else could go wrong? Right step. Goose step. Right step. Goose step… The word: BREITBART. BREITBART. BREITBART. BREITBART. BREITBART. BREITBART. BREITBART.

  6. margot livesey · · Reply

    Thank you for this illuminating if not uplifting of what the French are facing. And I look forward to hearing about the women’s march.

  7. We’re having a march here in Kansas City, too. Seems to be happening in lots of places which is fabulous. Now if we can make our voices heard beyond this. Thanks for the overview of the election process there. “This too shall pass,” my mother always said. But the “pass” may be more dangerous and filled with avalanches than we’d like…quite frankly.
    Always enjoy reading your posts from Paris.

    1. Hello Janet, so good to hear from you! Marchons, marchons, vive la patrie…

  8. Claude Haguenauer · · Reply

    To be accurate : Manuel ( not EMmanuel ) Valls has been Prime Minister from March 2014 to late 2016. Before 2014, he was Interior Minister.

    1. Merci, Claude, pour ce vigilance. Il faut toujours un éditeur! Je corrige le texte.

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