Sunday, May 06, 2012

Meanwhile in France

Giles a Lyon bus driver and father of three, says he was, briefly, interested in politics when he was at school. 
But once he reached voting age and started to look seriously at actual politicians this all changed. and he just thought – what are they going on about? 
They live on another planet.
So Lionel has never registered to vote. 
It doesn't matter to me if someone's rightwing or left wing,he says. 
We're all workers, and ultimately we sink or swim by our own efforts. 
What's some politician going to do for me – help me find work?
They don't know anything about people like me. 
They don't live in the same world.
Politicians, Lionel reckons, warming to his theme, "are just salesmen".
Worse, they're salesmen selling things they don't actually have and will never be able to deliver. 
Or like actors, in a play; very well-paid actors too. 
I ask nothing of anybody; I live cleanly and I pay my taxes. 
After that, they can do what they like. 
Politics don't touch my life. 
I respect my neighbours, but I look after myself.
It doesn't stop him having a political preference, and he concedes that if he lived in a small village rather than a big city, he might well vote in municipal elections.
Because that might actually make a difference to my day-to-day life. 
But a presidential election? 
It's a point of view, and it's one that's shared across France. 
There's a real disconnect, a widespread feeling that politicians come from a remote, aloof class that won't ever understand working people's problems, or change anything. 
And we ignore that at our peril. 
It's what really feeds the Front National. 
The fifth of French voters who chose Marine Le Pen aren't all racists by any means, but they are all fed up with traditional politics, politicians and parties. 
Fed up with the system.
And so on and so forth in country after country.

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