Friday, March 2, 2012

Présidentielle 2012: “Le changement, c’est maintenant!” François Hollande à Lyon

“Soyez les acteurs de l’espoir!” cried out a sweaty-faced François Hollande to a throng of thousands, having burst out of the Palais de Sports de Gerland and flooding into the streets of Lyon like nutella spilling out of a hot crêpe. And somewhere in that giant swell of socialist exhileration was a little bespectacled Australian smudge: me. But just getting there was no mean feat!

Hollande fans ascend on the Palais de Sports

I arrived at the Palais de Sports in the dwindling amber glow of Lyon’s afternoon sun, woefully ignorant that a François Hollande National Meeting would summon a U2-esque crowd, who were already being restrained from entry by the time I arrived.

Intrepid thing that I aim, I took my chances and scrambled over the barriers, but unfortunately just ended up squashed like the ham in a big Parti Socialiste sandwich (actually, I really was crushed mosh pit-like and did panic for a moment there).

Excellent use of a bed sheet
Socialists adorn the surrounds with pro-Hollande signage
Undeterred, we assembled under the giant screen outside (20 Minutes estimated us at “au moins 10.000”), with baguettes (yes, really) and homemade “Non à l’Islamophobie, Oui à la Laïcité” banners.

The crowd was warmed up by twenty minutes of Sarkozy-bashing from Lyon’s incumbent Parti Socialist mayor, accompanied by the requisite boos and hisses, and a short film in which Hollande, through a cunning series of edits, was closely tied with François Mitterand, the WWII resistance, mai 68, then just any and all random moments of human triumph (Martin Luther King Jr saying “I had a dream”, etc.). Credit where credit’s due, it kind of gave me chills.

Thousands of Hollande fans denied entry turn to face the big screen
Fans of all ages settle in
At long last, Hollande entered the stadium to a Bieber-esque frenzy and a slightly woeful techno-pop song of “Le changement, c’est maintenant”, which literally no one got into.

Moi, j’aime la famille. Toutes les familles!” This was Hollande’s takehome message. If there was one thing he was about, it was “la cohésion”. And if there was one thing “le pouvoir sortant” was about (his euphemism for Sarkozy), it was “le privilège”.

The problem with “la France, notre France”, according to Hollande? It’s divided, between the employed and the unemployed, big business and the little guys, the “Français de souche” and France’s immigrant population. This division, Hollande implied, was by the incumbent President’s design, whose only “projet” is his own “bilan”.

The Hollande inspirational movie
Hollande enters and is promptly mobbed
The best action was happening right at the foot of the screen, where a pack of old ladies moaned every time the UMP was mentioned, crying out, “Oh, les salopes!”

I left dizzy, with a slight headache and an undeniable high. And as my bus sailed into the night, I saw the giant posters of Hollande’s steely socialist stare had already been pasted over with another candidate’s gleaming grin. Clearly, this is just the beginning... À la prochaine!

Want to know more? You can also check out...
L’Express: François Hollande: “Le temps des privilèges est derrière nous”
France Soir: A Lyon, Hollande cible Sarkozy, le protecteur des privilèges

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for a great post. Makes the French elections seem more real. A la prochaine!