Wednesday, 20 October 2010

Sarko, the Footie and Losing my Democratic Rights

Last night's post, I realise, was something of an opinionated rant. Now, I love writing polemic. I also quite enjoy expounding in a polemical fashion in speech, at least until I see that look in my listeners' eyes that says "I really don't agree with what this crazy person is saying and ... just get me out of here now." But up until that point, I really quite enjoy it. I do find, though, that after publishing a piece like that (or scaring away an audience of poor souls who just wanted to make polite conversation), I suddenly feel a desperate need to be reasonable and open-minded again. So here, from the angel on my other shoulder, are a couple of reasons why the situation in France at the moment is not as bad as it might be.

One is that, in recent years, the government has succeeded in introducing a "minimum service" during strike times. This means, for example, that a certain number of trains have to run and that when the teachers strike, the mairie sends in people to look after the kids. (Little devil voice says that this may make people less likely to object to the striking and therefore let it carry on longer, but I'm ignoring it because I'm trying to be positive.)

The second is that, while the violence and the vandalism related to the lycée strikes is shocking, to be fair to the majority of the students, the demonstrations were supposed to be peaceful. Today's news reports are now suggesting that ordinary demonstrations were infiltrated by kids who just wanted to cause trouble, a bit like the way football hooligans cause trouble at football matches. So the country's youth may be deluded/brainwashed/looking for an excuse to skive off school, but at least they aren't all hooligans.

What has depressed me about the whole situation, however, is the fact that I have absolutely no power to change it. I live in this country, have a permanent contract to work in this country, pay taxes in this country and at the same time do not have the right to vote (except in local and European elections). By leaving Scotland, I've already lost the right to vote in Scottish Parliament elections because they are regarded as local government even although the Scottish Parliament has the power to make decisions about most of the issues that I have strong opinions about. Ironically, if there is a referendum on Scottish independence, I won't have the right to vote in it, while some random French person living in Scotland would. I do still have the right to vote in UK national elections, but even that disappears after a certain number of years. It's not something I've ever seriously worried about before, but somehow all these photos of burning cars are making me change my mind ...

1 comment:

  1. I enjoy reading your take on things. From a distance, it seems that a lot of the news items are featuring the local hoons who have joined in just for the hell of it. I don't know what to think....

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