Macron’s hometown voters look set to shun the president

Source: BBC 

The people of Amiens do not appear to be especially enamoured of its most famous son.

President Macron famously spent his youth in this northern cathedral city. His wife (and former teacher) Brigitte is from a well-known local family, the Trogneux, whose 150-year-old confectionary business still prospers on the high street.

But finding anyone to say a good word about the embattled French leader is not easy.

Outside the Carrefour hypermarket on the northern outskirts, by far the greatest number of people we questioned said they would be choosing the National Rally (RN) at the snap elections on 30 June.

Some had voted Macron in the past; some had voted left in the past; some had regularly voted far-right.

All had a similar mantra: We’ve tried everything else. What could possibly be worse than what we’ve got?

Macron unexpectedly called the snap election two weeks ago, after his party was trounced by the RN in the European elections. Now France is digesting the hitherto unthinkable possibility of a far-right prime minister after the second round on 7 July.

Aurelie, a 37-year-old cleaning lady with a two year-old son, said she had thought about voting left, but the ideas of the far-left France Unbowed (LFI) party (now in an election pact with the Socialists and others) were too much for her.

“The RN is constantly being called fascist, racist, homophobe etcetera. Maybe it was once. How would I know? I wasn’t around then. All I can say is that today it is a party like any other,” she says.

“It is a party that is close to us, the people. That’s what I like – they are for the French – and I mean the French of all colours. I have two friends originally from Chad who are going to vote RN too. They say they are so happy to be in France that they want to save it.”

Aurelie says the main issue on which she agrees with RN policy is security.

“I am up and out every morning at 04:30 to go to work. I used to be able to cycle or walk anywhere in Amiens. Not anymore. Now I take my car.

“There are always young men hanging about, and I am scared.”

As for Macron, “At the start I supported him. He was a ‘booster’ – really motivated. We all said wow! And it was an honour that he came from Amiens.

“But seven years on, we’re all disappointed. And I feel he’s very manipulative. He plays with people. I don’t like it.”

Christopher, 36, has a job delivering paint, and he is feeling the economic pinch. Towards the end of every month, he has to sleep in his car because he cannot afford the petrol for the 60-mile round trip from Amiens to his home.

“Since Macron was elected, everything has spiralled downwards,” he says. “Everyone is sick and tired. We need to try something new.

“I need to believe in something. Macron promised a lot, but he didn’t keep his promises. So I am trying to believe in the RN. I’ll support anyone who genuinely helps working people.”

For Noemie, 36, a public sector worker who has always voted left, “Today the far-left is more dangerous than the far-right. And anyway I don’t think the RN is far-right.

“(Party president) Jordan Bardella thinks of the French. The LFI – they think first of all about foreigners. But we have our own homeless who need help too.”

But was it not a big wrench to choose a party that the left has always categorised as dangerous?

“In the past yes, everything about the old Front National (the RN’s previous incarnation) was a bit scary. They were racist, whatever. But they’ve changed. Marine Le Pen is not Jean-Marie Le Pen.

“We need to stop with all this RN equals fascism stuff. The LFI today are more racist and fascist than the RN.”

Bernard, a 68 year-old retiree, has always voted for the mainstream right, the Republicans. But this time he too is choosing RN.

“France is in a total mess. Immigration, cost of living. Nothing works. And it keeps going further downhill. We can’t do worse than what we have now. I have no idea if their solutions will work.

“But when there is nothing left in the drawer, you have to look elsewhere.”

Many people on being approached said they did not wish to talk about politics, because it was too explosive an issue right now. There were several who were going to vote for the left-wing alliance, out of fear of the RN.

Only one man – out of 20 or so – said he would be voting Macron.

“Look at what they are offering on the far-left. Look at what they are offering on the far-right. It’s a disaster, economically-speaking.

“I don’t particularly want to vote for Macron – but what choice does any sensible person have?”

Not exactly a ringing endorsement, but even in Amiens the president will take what he can get.

Related Post

No more posts to show

Post Comments

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *