I imagine the streets of Paris still buzzing and yelling and dancing and horrah-ing while Mulhouse has already gone to bed--but happily. Things are changing. Certainly, after the debate the other day it seemed OBVIOUS who the choice would be here in France, but I think that even a few weeks ago Sarko would never have imagined himself moving out of this job... and onto what? And Hollande? A few weeks ago? I wonder whether he felt he had as strong a chance to make this happen, was merely lost in campaigning in hopes or really felt this was going to take place. My friends were devided--the pessimists who said we were in for another 5 years of havoc and downward spirals, others who--like me--were unsure what direction the wind was about to take us, and the third, happy category of complete optimists, in which sat only ONE actual person that I knew personally. He was entirely convinces that Hollande would win, and he was constantly voicing that sureness and optimism all about him--and it was lovely to hear and tonight I salute his faith in the candidate we all saw get elected.
For me, it marks an unfortunate moment. I should have filed for nationality. After all, at this stage in my life and tenured career here what happens politically can have a clear (and sudden) impact on me. So I was regretting not being able yet to cast a vote for a country that has now been mine for the better part of my adult life. And I thank the French men and women who did go out and vote today and made their opinions count.I raised a few glasses to and with you tonight in the Place de la Concorde in Mulhouse in front of the siège of the PS.
I was impressed, at the Place de la Concorde here in what is a little, post-industrial city struggling to remake itself on many levels and with a reputation for voting right (and even extreme right) but which voted Hollande as a city (as did Strasbourg--Go Alsace!--) that there were so many young people out--not just kids with their parents, but a large contingent of PS supporters wearing the party t-shirts and who evidently have been working for this election were the age of many of my students. Professors often talk--that old cliché of now versus then, of how things are versus some nostalgia for an earlier, smarter, more engaged moment. So, seeing these young supporters rejuvenated my hope for the future. And the French government site on the elections estimates that 79.9% of those eligible to vote in the election voted. Good for voters! Stay engaged! Keep fighting for what you believe!
And on that excited note, I shall say good night--as, like the rest of Alsace just coming back to work and getting back to school after our spring break, it is time to head to bed and to sleep and to perhaps dream that this election will lead to some better politics in the 5 years to come. Certainly, the pressure is on for Hollande--the first PS president elected since Mitterand. There will be comparisons and hopes, but also the ferocious critics will be waiting to nip and bite at his heels the first chance they get. It will be tough, so let us all have a little dream of seeing this work!
To close--a little re-cap of ce soir in photos:
Arriving to watch the crowd waiting to hear the election results.
2 Photos taken just minutes before 20h00.
Dahia arrives and someone has given her a sign--so we 2 foreigners have a little photo session waiting for the election results...
The moment as the television announcers seem to be about to say what this audience wants to hear...
Are we hearing correctly? Up in front, one of the young supporters cracks open a bottle of Crémant, showering those that have yet to react to the news that yes NOW IS THE MOMENT:
Quickly, the joy beings to spread throughout the crowd!
The merry dance of HOLLANDE a gagné,
avec 52% (selon les éstimations)
Between Sarkozy's concession speech and Hollande's address of the French, a little music is played in Place de la Concorde, Mulhouse:
The night has come on, blue and calm, and the evening is drawing to a close at Place de la Concorde, Mulhouse, Alsace, France. Isn't this a lovely image of the blueness?
The end of the evening, the rain over, the crémant drunk, the dances danced, the flowers fading or tucked into jackets to carry home--and a few signs like this one here that had likely been used as an umbrella during the brief storm that passed over mid-evening disintigrated by the rain.
And to end, Hollande's slogan--
LE CHANGEMENT, C'EST MAINTENANT (Change is now!)