April 10, 2018
A mood of radicalisation in France
Radicals had their day in France yesterday in universities and on the occupied site of Notre-Dame-des-Landes coinciding with the second week of strikes against the SNCF reforms. A mood of radicalisation is in the air this spring, and it could cost Emmanuel Macron the willingness of the French to give him a chance, writes Nicholas Beytout. The climate could also make it more difficult to push through the SNCF reforms, with the radical unions becoming more prominent. L'Opinion already evokes parallels with the May of 1968.
This is still a far-fetched comparison: over previous weeks some students put up barricades and symbols of their hate for police, politics and the society in their universities. But yesterday there were violent clashes between police and eco-activists in Notre-Dame-des-Landes. About 2000 police officers were employed to evacuate about 100 activists who live on the site since 2008 to protest against a controversial airport project, and who refused to leave even after the government decided to ditch the project. Over the last 10 years these eco-warriors, farmers, and anti-capitalists, turned the area into an experiment in autonomous living and put up makeshift buildings, which the government says have to go so the site can be redeveloped.
Some experts say this radicalisation was to be expected and is a normal expression given the government's more radical and assertive political stance. Another expert cited by l'Opinion says it is the lack of public debate that makes these people choose more radical forms of expressions.
The danger is not so much that the movements converge, but that there is a melting pot of rages expressed by those who consider themselves the losers of an era, those who have not been able to integrate or adapt to the modern world.
Recognising the change in the climate and its danger, Emmanuel Macron will address the nation with two televised speeches next week, in which he will try to quell the rising unrest, or at least reassure the public to keep its faith in him and his government.