Politics, Street-Level



I love demonstrations and rallies. Sometimes I go out of my way to find them. The presence of thousands of people, all singularly motivated, is a fairly rare phenomenon—all the more so when it comes to political thought.

Now, I don’t know if you’ve been following the French election, and it’s not my place to sum it up here. But let’s just say that this election season has approached the levels of polarization and viciousness that Americans, ahem, enjoyed in 2004. When I found out that no less than ten people who I knew were going to a rally for Parti Socialiste candidate Ségolène Royal, I figured that I might as well show up too. So I coerced a friend into coming along and set off for the Stade Charléty down in the 13th arrondissement.


Turns out we showed up too late to be let in. But we weren’t disappointed either way. Part of what I find interesting—and sometimes more than a little bit comic—about rallies is all of the constituent groups who have come together to show their support for a given issue. At Ségolène Royal’s rally, there was the normal crop of Socialist Party supporters with red or purple tee shirts with slogans like “fiers d’être socialistes” or “impose-toi dans le débat,” but also the Young Socialists, the socialist feminists, a few communists, a few Bayrou supporters, a smattering of anarchists, and at least two Cuban flags. What better than a political rally to air out all these allegiances?


As the speech ended, my friend and I started toward the nearby Métro line. Splayed out across the grass covering the tramway lines were people of all different shades of leftist thought, listening to the musicians who picked up where Ségolène left off.

This entry was written by Sam Imberman , posted on Friday May 04 2007at 02:05 am , filed under Politics, Society and Culture and tagged . Bookmark the permalink . Post a comment below or leave a trackback: Trackback URL.

One Response to “Politics, Street-Level”

  • We’ve got a taste of the election fever over here, too. Nicolas Sarkozy’s Outremont campaign office was vandalized the other day and his Quebec campaign manager has received death threats. Meanwhile, the new French expatriate bar on Park Avenue is going to broadcast the election coverage live. During the first round of voting the crowd watching was so large it spilled over the sidewalk and into the street.

    Strangely, despite the fact that the Canadian media have painted Sarkozy in a very poor light, all of the newspapers and columnists are endorsing him.