En suspens

Larousse defines ‘en suspens’ as a state of momentary interruption. To me it feels like time is standing still. This state of being suspended, in limbo, while we wait and see what the future holds.

I am not normally given to pre-election anxiety. But in light of the surprising results the world has seen this past year whenever voters went to the polls, it is natural to feel anxious. Everywhere you turn in France there is talk of what may be the fall-out after Sunday’s first round of the presidential election.

Sure, there will be a second round two weeks later, on May 7. But by then the choices will be narrowed down to two from the current 11. And if we believe the polls, which I am not particularly inclined to do but at the same time cannot reasonably ignore, we could conceivably find ourselves stuck between the proverbial rock and a hard place: Mélenchon on the left, and Le Pen on the right.

That particular scenario is responsible for my sense of creeping discomfort. If it came down to it, I am fairly confident that France would go left. But at what price? The end of Europe as we know it, of free trade and the free movement of its citizens. What would it be like to live in ‘La France Insoumise’ (Undefeated, rebellious France)? There are things I could get excited about: a new constitution (6ème République) that would allow this country to make the kinds of sweeping changes that are needed; a real commitment to investing in renewable energy. But how exactly would we distribute the so-called wealth of our country to better serve its citizens?

What concerns me is that there are so many cynical, deluded and misguided citizens who either will not vote at all, will vote ‘blanc’ as a protest, or will vote for an extreme faction which, however endearing, has no chance making more than a ripple at the polls. Which leaves the window wide open – grande ouverte – for our worst nightmare.

Until next week, then, when we will have a better idea of ‘à quelle sauce on sera mangé’…


  1. francetaste · April 20, 2017

    People (in France or elsewhere) rarely see beyond the ends of their noses. They don’t realize the benefits of the EU, but it makes an easy scapegoat. They are concerned about being subsumed by a bunch of mostly like-minded neighbors, when in fact, France alone (or Italy alone or Denmark alone) would have very little influence on the global stage. The EU, however, is the richest and one of the most populous blocs on earth, a force for other superpowers to contend with.
    I read that LePen’s best hope for winning is a lot of blanc votes.

    • MELewis · April 20, 2017

      I don’t get it either! Seems to me entirely obvious that we are stronger together, even if the EU engine needs some serious tinkering. As for voting blanc, it seems that the French are more concerned about expressing their dissatisfaction rather than worrying about the consequences, at least on the first round.

  2. acflory · April 20, 2017

    Here in Australia we’ve been voting for Independents and small groups of Independents for a few elections now. I think it began as a general dissatisfaction with the two major parties, but now I think we like being able to force the issue when necessary – i.e. whichever major party is in power needs the co-operations of the smaller parties/individuals to get anything done.
    As someone who believes that no elected representative should be forced to vote in a party ‘block’ [or face the consequences], I think that having to compromise is a good thing. Strangely enough, it’s worked quite well for us [so far], but then voting is compulsory here so that probably changes the dynamic a little.

    Anyway, I hope the coming election in France won’t have such dire consequences as you imagine.
    p.s. What’s the French for ‘fingers crossed’ or equivalent thereof?

    • phildange · April 20, 2017

      Exactly the same “Je croise les doigts” .

      • acflory · April 21, 2017

        Merci. Je crose les doigts aussi! 😀

    • MELewis · April 20, 2017

      I’m all for independents, and I think we are actually witnessing the end of the party system in France. Unfortunately the electoral system is geared towards a majority vote and therefore we could end up having to support the lesser of evils. In this case, I’d rather the candidates work together to form some sort of coalition and be forced to represent more of a consensus. Hopefully you are right and we will avoid the worst! Positive thinking! 🙂

      • acflory · April 21, 2017

        Glass half full! And good luck. Every election these days feels momentous, and dangerous too.

  3. phildange · April 20, 2017

    Don’t forget that in June there will be legislative elections to the parliament . Even is M Le Pen wins there are no chance for the Front national to get a majority from local MPs elections . We saw twice a “cohabitation” direction that showed national policy was made by the government stemming from the parliament . Unless Le Pen asks her Nazi friends to invade France as usual to block the electoral process . Anyway they are all usurpers, the only legitimate leaders of France are the Merovingians, as those who know know .
    To express “between a rock and a hard place” I offer you two choices . One is for people who went to school :” de Charybde en Scylla”, the other for the serfs :”entre le marteau et l’enclume”, between the hammer and the anvil . I think the first one exists in English too though only the exception who once opened a book knows it,but the second one perfectly translates your rock expression .

    • MELewis · April 20, 2017

      Thanks for pointing that out, Phil. At least it will help me to sleep better! 😉 I remember the Mitterrand-Chirac cohabitation from when I first came to France. (That famous quote: “Je décide. Il exécute.”) As for the Greek mythology, I’m afraid I had to resort to Wikipedia which suggests: ‘Out of the frying pan and into the fire.’ Yep, that may be close. Sadly, it is not much of a choice.

      • phildange · April 20, 2017

        “Entre le marteau et l’enclume”, the hammer and the anvil, translates better the rock and the hard place . For impossible choices we have the perfect ” Choisir entre la peste et le choléra”, choosing between plague and cholera . This one was once used about a Vth Republic presidential election in 69 after de Gaulle quitted . The second round opposed two establishment candidates, and the Communist candidate, eliminated in the first round, didn’t give voting preferences then, using this expression .

      • memoirsofahusk · April 21, 2017

        How about, between the devil and the deep blue sea?

  4. zipfslaw1 · April 20, 2017

    I’m baffled by people who talk about a “vote blanc.” When your choices include “vote for a Nazi” or “vote against a Nazi,” how the hell do you NOT vote against the Nazi? Of course, I can only barely fathom how anyone voted for Trump, either…

    • MELewis · April 20, 2017

      Well you are the linguist, so perhaps fathom is not the best word. It suggests depths….?

  5. zipfslaw1 · April 20, 2017

    On a lighter note: Phildange, last time I wandered into the Cluny, they had a special exhibit on the Merovingians, the most fascinating part of which (for me) was the throne of Dagobert.

  6. coteetcampagne · April 20, 2017

    AS you say, anything could happen. We have Trump, Brexit and a cowardly May off to the hustings again . Turkey has just taken a worrying step and we won’t start on the world’s other contentious regimes.
    Sometimes I wonder just how “civilised” we really are. Lessons have not been learned.

    It all adds to the general feeling of unease.

    • MELewis · April 20, 2017

      Unsettling indeed. Although I admit to seeing a ray of hope when May called the election. Surely there’s a way to block Brexit yet?

      • coteetcampagne · April 20, 2017

        Well, that was my first thought, then my second one was how would they do that? Only the Lib-dems want to quash Brexit and they are not going to win. Labour have a union man at the helm with limited interest in the EU.

  7. Suzanne et Pierre · April 20, 2017

    You are so right…this is very much of an unsettling time. I worry as well about people who won’t vote or people who will vote blank. I don’t know what the point is as it will elect people they probably don’t want to see in power. Then they will go on the street to protest like they have done in the US but they wouldn’t be in that mess if they had voted in the first place. I also don’t understand why a good section of people think that populism it is the best solution to the current problems. I will be watching on Sunday and certainly hoping that the results are the right ones. The Netherlands avoided electing the Populist Guy though some of his policies have seeped through to the main party to allow it to win. A very strange time we live in. (Suzanne)

    • MELewis · April 21, 2017

      I actually heard someone interviewed on the radio today who said he was not going to vote in the presidential elections as he did not believe it would have any impact on his life (!) We are definitely not helped by current events but let’s hope the French keep cool heads and remember what matters on Sunday. Thanks for your thoughts as ever!

  8. George Lewis · April 20, 2017

    Just remember, things are never as bad as they seem our as good as they seem!

    • MELewis · April 21, 2017

      Well that is a reasonable approach – the eternal grain of salt! Must be the wisdom of the ages…. 😉

  9. bjaybrooks · April 20, 2017

    In the United States many believed that it was impossible for Trump to be elected. However, the discontent of many, somewhat hidden individuals, caused a tremendous surprise to the political pundits and pollsters.
    It is yet to be fully realized what this political aberration will cost, both for us and the world.

    • MELewis · April 21, 2017

      I am obviously not in the United States but I have lived there. Yet I was one who scoffed at Trump’s candidacy – not that my opinion counted. It is hard to credit what people will believe, and support. Yet no threat to freedom and democracy should ever be taken lightly. There is a lesson to be learned. Let’s hope the French don’t fall into the same trap!

      • bjaybrooks · April 21, 2017

        I agree. Mary Jane and I were having dinner with friends less than a week before the election. Our friends were sure that there was no way Trump would win. Although I certainly hoped that they were correct…I responded that he could win. It is difficult to measure the discontent that is somewhat hidden in society. Many people in the United States feel ignored and forgotten.

  10. memoirsofahusk · April 21, 2017

    ‘Sigh’ seems to be one of my two words of the year. The other is ‘grim’.
    We are all worrying about your elections, especially as it seems a helpful terrorist has added a little extra spark to the ‘Marine’ bonfire. My sincere sympathies to you all in France, will it never end? Here, meanwhile, our hopes of a second referendum were briefly ignited yesterday when a senior Labour figure said such a thing was being considered – which, with the Lib Dem stance would have made it possible via a Lib/Lab pact. But that faint hope has now been extinguished by the Labour leader. I could despair for all the reasons others have mentioned – Trump, Turkey, Brexit, Labour in disarray … but I plan to resort to humour of sorts later. My intended post on my mother’s egg whisk and capitalism requires serious thought and there is too much of that about. Serious will have to wait. GOOD LUCK! My doigts are croised.

    • MELewis · April 21, 2017

      Thank you, I think there are a lot of crossed ‘doigts’ at the moment. 😉 Perhaps I am an eternal optimist (or absurdly naïve) yet I somehow have faith that France will avoid the worst. As for Brexit, if there truly is no way around that farce of a vote, you will need your sense of humour! Looking forward to that whisk post!

  11. Mél@nie · April 22, 2017

    yeah, les élections have been THE talk of the town all over France these past weeks… I guess THE total nightmare would be to have to choose (au 2nd tour) between fascist-racist Marinette Le Pen(Lucifer) & communist hologram J-L Mélenchon(Satanas)…
    * * *
    the photo-shopped image “en suspens” was taken in a Norwegian fjord?… 🙂

    • MELewis · April 22, 2017

      LOL. No idea about the photo – it’s a google special (but supposed to be the ‘Flying Frenchies’!) Let’s hope for anything but a nightmare on Sunday! xx

  12. Osyth · April 23, 2017

    I have been suffering some sort of malaise for nearly a month now and I am convinced it is an insidious political virus I am in the grip of. Or put more bluntly fear. Everything changes, nothing stays the same but for the moment the changes are like floods of coldest water on any dreams I care to dream.

    • MELewis · April 24, 2017

      I tried to reply to you twice yesterday and failed. So much going on, and I sincerely wanted to say that I hope whatever malaise you’ve been suffering doesn’t keep you silent for long. With yesterday’s result, it seems there is hope. Sometimes spring can be tough despite the sunshine and burgeoning nature. Hang in there! x

      • Osyth · April 24, 2017

        I’m feeling better. Was a combination of things some of which are resolved some not but M. Macaroon (as we fondly hail him in our house) has brought some sunshine into my life that was sorely lacking. Thank you so much for your lovely note – it means an awful lot x

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s