French words of the week: Naufrage & Remontada (14/4/2022)

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Yes, it is another newsletter about the French election. I know, I know, I’m over all the rhetoric as well, but there is no help for it, we’ve all got to hold on till April 24th. (Until the legislatives that is.)

By now you’ve probably heard, incumbent centrist Emmanuel Macron and Far Right wing Marine Le Pen are the two déjà vu finalists to make it to the 2nd round of voting on the 24th. The first part of the barrage held, will the 2nd?

Rather than cover the same ground as the NY Times, the Guardian, Politico, etc., here are a couple of stories that the French are looking at over a longer term:

French word Naufrage meaning “shipwreck”: The two traditional French “big kahunas”, Les Republicans and Parti Socialiste political parties look well and truly sunk. Not only did they not make it to the 2nd round of voting, they gained less than 5% of the vote, meaning their expenses are not reimbursed.

This is the equivalent of both the Democrats and the Republicans in the U.S. losing, the Tories and Labor in the U.K., or the Liberals and Conservatives in Canada. It is a big deal. Who is going to pick up the pieces in 5 years, when all the other parties are worryingly rather “extreme”? (Macron, if elected, will not be allowed to run again, and has no seeming successor.)

The left-leaning Parti Socialiste has already had to sell off their headquarters a couple of years ago to raise funds, and right-leaning Les Republicans are €15million in debt. Giving to political parties is highly restricted in France (hence all those loans Le Pen took from Russia) so reconstituting a war chest to play politics is going to be tough.

French word Remontada meaning “comeback”: The 2nd word after the election was the brief “hanging chad” moment of 3rd place candidate Jean-Luc Melanchon in the hours that followed the media calling the election for Macron and Le Pen.

The election was called at 8pm Paris time as authorized by the law, but by 10pm the gap between far-left Melanchon and far-right Le Pen had narrowed uncomfortably for the statisticians and the journalists.

The Spanish word Remontada came into the French lexicon when football (soccer) team Paris Saint-Germain had a 4 goal advantage over FC Barcelona that they managed to lose spectacularly. (By the way there is a big Classico match between PSG and Olympique de Marseille coming up this weekend which is going to be quite nerve-wracking, and could lead to another word of the week which is “carnage”.)

Anyway, back to politics, was Melanchon going to be able to pull off the Remontada? A former Parti Socialiste member, he is a more palatable alternative than Le Pen to a larger proportion of the electorate, but still has been known to exclaim his love for dictators like Putin and Venezuela’s Chavez.

We don’t actually have the “hanging chads” issue in France, because each candidate’s name is written on a separate piece of paper and entered into an envelope, so there can be no mixup. Happily for the statisticians and all those who had to wake up early to go to work on Monday morning, the election call stayed as it is.

But it begs the question, is he the one to watch for the upcoming legislative elections and for 5 years from now? He may already be 70 years old, but considering U.S. President Biden is 79, he’s not the oldest on the block. However, one election at a time, right? Bring on April 24th!

In other news:

  • The Louvre museum has blocked the sale of a painting of strawberries by Jean Siméon Chardin that is supposedly worth €26million, so that it can try to raise the money itself. They don’t have a gofundme account, but you can donate here if you like strawberries.
  • You can now read Le Monde in English, although it looks like most of the articles need a subscription.
  • If anyone knows what exactly French ice cream is and why it would taste like kraft macaroni and cheese, please let me know:

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