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French Connection: An Interview with a True Parisian
Part 2/2 : The Long Five Years

Jess Henrys

Friday, 26 August 2022

Welfare Secretary Jess continues her interview with born-and-bred Parisian, Stella, to gain an inside perspective on President Macron and what the next five years could look like for France.

Read part one here.

We had talked about some lighter things - Paris, places, people, pastries – but a cloud hung over the conversation. The elephant in the room was the President. Well, not the president himself, but Macron’s re-election to the French presidency just a month before was still present in people’s minds, especially in a room full of students. I broached the subject with Stella.

J: Shall we talk a bit about politics?

S: Yes, let’s talk about it from my very left-wing French perspective! [laughs] No no, I will try my best to be objective in my answers.

J: Well, we’ve seen the election in the past month [24th April 2022]. Can you share some of the general thoughts and feelings in France before the election, that you saw or that you heard?

S: There was a lot of tension, and sadly, a lot of anger. I think that most French people don’t find what they need or what they want in French politics. Macron has been elected at like, 58 percent… it’s very low against the far right. But actually, he was elected by, like 30 percent of the French people, the rest of them haven’t vote or have voted far right. There are a lot of people who are feeling abandoned or not listened to. It explains the rise in racism or homophobia or these things.

Macron was re-elected with a majority of 58.55% of votes, versus Marine le Pen’s 41.45%. It is a narrower margin than his victory over her for his first term in 2017, and with a turnout of only 72% (the lowest in over 50 years), left-leaning individuals like Stella are naturally worried.

S: I think the media aren’t being fair, which is a dangerous thing to say, but I think they are doing a bit of sensationalisme. There has been some analysis of which parties had access to tv interviews and magazines. The far-right had, like, 40 percent of it and the far-left was not listened to at all. It has been very discredited because the far-right has the shock factor and such a huge audience. I believe so many more people voted for them because it was all they saw. There is a sense of injustice in France from a lot of people, which I think is fair. It’s justified.

J: How do you think those sentiments have changed after the election?

S: I think a lot of people are resigned, like, let’s go for five more years of this.

This is going to be a long five years.

J: What do you think the next five years will look like for France?

S: Like the last five years. A rising in disparities between French people who are just going to want to attack people more. A rise in violence towards women and homophobia and… Macron knows that he is a president for the rich and it’s just going to get worse.

He does some things right, I’m sure, but he has to make things better. National hospitals are so poor, for example. There was recently a professorial concours – the exams taken to become a teacher – and they’re lacking almost 100 professors in each subject. A lot of schools will be lacking teachers and not be able to teach properly because the teachers are treated so poorly by l’État. They are not well paid, the conditions are awful, they don’t get to choose where they work or anything. This is going to be a long five years.

night falls over Paris, photo taken of the lights of the Eiffel Tower and Les Invalides dome, as seen from the Montparnasse Tower

J: How does this differ in the Outre-Mer? (French overseas territories) You have family there, can you tell us a bit about those places?

S: I think the main difference is that the people don’t really see themselves attached to France. Very often, legislation doesn’t apply in the same way there than here. For example, during Covid, we had a curfew, and theirs lasted a lot longer than ours did, but their restaurants reopened before ours. It’s different because it’s so far away. Back there, my aunt has lived [in La Réunion] for a while and adopted the Créole lifestyle. People call France La Métropole, as if it’s another country, it’s not really home.

I would say that they have a lot of grievances. The Outre-Mer is marked by the remnants of colonisation, and they are discriminated against in a few things. Life there is very expensive. Groceries mostly come from France, and they don’t really access their own products there. People are poorer but the cost of life is higher. But I feel like, because it’s Créole, it’s like… they help each other out all the time. I think maybe it’s a trait of poorer populations, so I don’t want to fetishise it, but it’s a beautiful way of living.

This is La Réunion - I don’t want to speak for other parts of the Outre-Mer because I know that some of them are very angry towards La Métropole. La Réunion… it’s okay… even though there’s obviously lots of problems. Where I come from, it’s annoyance but not anger.

J: Thank you for talking about these things. If you were running for President, what politics would you make?

S: [laughs] I don’t think I should ever be President. I think I’m rather a violent person and I would be so annoyed at all the hardships of politics and the negotiating and everything. I would go crazy. I would probably say some very rude things towards people I should never ever be rude to!

J: And just to confirm for the record that all opinions expressed have been the opinions of one Stella Cabaret and not of the whole of France, or of this language magazine.

S: Obviously! I do not mean to speak for all French people, everything I have said has been mine and mine only and not objective, of course.

J: Well, thank you for sharing those thoughts with us!

S: It was a pleasure.

Stella sits in the window of my Paris apartment in her signature blue denim jacket and holds up a peace sign

[end of interview]

For more information on the French presidential elections, and how they work check out a comprehensive article by our editor-in-chief, Niamh, here.

[all photos by Jessica Henrys unless stated otherwise]


About the Author

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Images provided by Jess Henrys.

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Barbara Dawson

average rating is 3 out of 5

Lovely tasty dish. Try it you won’t be disappointed.

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Aunty Liz

average rating is 3 out of 5

Very tasty and cheap. I often have this for tea!

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average rating is 3 out of 5

Being a bilingual family (French mother and British father,) living in France I thought your article was extremely interesting . Have you research on bilingualism ? It seems that when the mother is British and the father French and they both live in France their children seem to be more bilingual than when the mother is French and the father is British . This is what we called mother tongue , isn't it ?

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average rating is 3 out of 5

Such an interesting article!

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