12 May 2012

France has spoken. Change is now!

Symbolic red roses
It's been a nail-biting two weeks here in France, but at last, my friends, colleagues and I can breathe a collective sigh of relief. François Hollande has defeated Nicolas Sarkozy 51.62% to 48.38% in the runoff election and will become the first Socialist president since François Mitterrand in 1995. 
Among friends May 6th, we sat on the edge of our seats, anxiously counting down the minutes until 8pm, and when the photograph of Hollande filled the screen of our television, we lept to our feet screaming in joy, and wasted no time popping the cork on several bottles of champagne. Sam lifted me up in his arms and whirled me around in a circle before placing me on the ground and whispering “This is good news for you... for us.” I could have cried tears of joy. He was right, I can feel it is the dawn of a new France.
A triumph for multiculturalism in France
After a round of celebratory drinks and bises, we took to the streets, a homemade banner and several bottles in hand. A very elated, multicultural crowd had gravitated to the main square, Place du Capitole, in front of the city hall to celebrate. Sam and I took off running, jumped up on a ledge of the majestic brick building, and unfurled our banner to be met by cheers and camera flashes. We later befriended two lovely Muslim ladies, who although born in France, confessed to being treated like second-class citizens. They complimented our banner, and we shared our mutual hopes that this president would embrace cultural diversity and women's rights.
The air was filled with blaring car horns, cheers, singing, and noise makers. It was the sound of hope restored.
Sam and I with our banner... We had a little help from Obama...
 Visually, Place du Capitole was a sea of blue, white and red flags, pro-Hollande posters, and of course, hand-held smart phones to document the historic event. For me, the most stunning visual element of the evening was the fresh red roses being waved in the air and carried through the streets. Not only is red the color of the Socialist party, but Toulouse is famously referred to as la Ville Rose. I found this beautifully symbolic. Although the red roses were used to celebrate the victory all over France, Toulouse is the only city able to claim this special double meaning. I felt so very privileged to be celebrating this event in Toulouse, la Ville Rose... And could not prevent myself from belting out Edith Piaf’s “la Vie en Rose” as we walked through town, a newfound spring in our step.
It seems as if everyone I knew was celebrating at Place du Capitole; my law students, my colleagues and several friends.
Of course, Sarkozy’s supporters tried to stir things up, driving by hurling insults at the crowd, waving French flags (and middle fingers), but for the most part, things remained calm.
As Hollande addressed the country after his victory, he acknowledged the 17 year gap since the last left-wing president. 
 "Many people have been waiting for this moment for many long years. Others, younger, have never known such a time. ... I am proud to be capable to bring about hope again. I know what many people feel -- years and years of wounds, of ruptures, and we have to repair, recover, unite. That is what we're going to do together.”
The day after the election, world markets plunged, and eurozone debt fears have been reawakened around the globe. The media is speculating that the election of Hollande is a catastrophe for the debt crisis. I remain optimistic about Hollande’s plans to focus on growing the economy rather than Sarkozy’s austerity policy. I think much remains to be seen and that we should give the president-elect his chance.

I am absolutely overflowing with pride for my adopted country. This is fantastic news for me, as an immigrant in France. Possibly next year, I will have the right to vote in municipal elections. And who knows, in five years time, perhaps I will be voting in the next presidential election, as a French citizen! My life in France has taught me that all is possible, and now that there is a president who will look out for my interests, I am all the more optimistic that the dream will continue.
Vive la France. Le changement, c’est maintenant!


  1. Anonymous12 May, 2012

    Your entries always make me travel in my mind! Great job!

  2. Ce n'est pas totalement gagné...l'ombre de la cohabitation plane...La France va-t-elle rester cohérente, reste à passer les législatives. La mobilisation doit continuer...

  3. I am much impressed by the decision and also it is necessary to declare if there is no change has been come. I am much thankful to you for sharing a very nice topic.
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