World’s biggest protesters shun world’s biggest protest
Speed cameras, foreign wine, dog turds – if something is deemed offensive to the French, they’ll have it plastered across a cardboard banner and bouncing up and down in the middle of a protest before you know it.
So what about the global financial crisis? The ‘indignados’ of Spain have managed to convince tent-owners across the Western world to carry out the 'occupation' of their respective financial districts. But while Wall Street and the London Stock Exchange have spent the past month (unwillingly) dressed up as Glastonbury, the skyscraper stomping ground of Paris remained entirely free of Decathlon attire until just yesterday. Even then, only about 20 tents turned up, and half of them scarpered when they saw the police coming.
So, what’s wrong with the French? After centuries of waking up babies and causing traffic jams with their incessant chanting and marching and general mass-moaning, they now sit back and watch as the rest of the world takes to the streets to protest something really worthwhile?
Even the French themselves are puzzled. News website Rue89 attempted to discover the truth behind the unnerving mystery by challenging a variety of sociologists and anthropologists on the subject. Five explanations thence emerged:
- The presidential election is a-coming. Those more likely to take part in the ‘Occupy’ protests are left wing. They blame everything on current president, Nicolas Sarkozy. Therefore, once Sarkozy is booted out in next May’s presidential election, all problems will be solved.
- France is not Spain. They only need to look north, south or west, and the French – who are still, for the most part, homed and employed – feel like the luckiest people on earth.
- Lack of slogan. While the Spanish focus on unemployment and the Greeks on debt, the French complain of not having one main scapegoat to splash across their banners (see confusing fish-eating-fish photo). It’s just not catchy enough, “against unemployment, debt, pension reform, etc”.
- Rival unions. French unions are notoriously competitive. They couldn’t possibly unite for the same cause.
- Nasty police. The riot police in France are known for having no mercy. The shadow of a baton-wielding French policeman approaching your tent = too scary.