An atmosphere of insurgency hangs over France. Month after month, demonstrations against the legalization of gay marriage bring together hundreds of thousands of people, and mobilization is not weakening. Members of the government are harassed by disgruntled crowds during each trip they make. Bankrupt factories are stormed by angry workers who sometimes occupy the streets to erect barricades made of burning tires. Leftist groups hold rallies and accuse the government of not being radical enough. Rightist groups hold other rallies and suggest that French civilization is threatened and must fight back. Rabid feminists attack Catholics by stripping naked in public and shouting obscene slogans in churches and cathedrals.
Financial scandals are accumulating and slowly discrediting the entire political class. One month ago, Jerome Cahuzac, a Secretary of Finance, center left, who was in charge of the fight against tax evasion, was indicted for tax evasion. Now, Claude Gueant, a former Secretary of the Interior, center right, is accused of bleaching “black money” coming from the former Libyan dictatorship. François Hollande was elected President just one year ago, but he is already discredited and on the ropes: none of his predecessors had fallen from grace so fast. Seventy-six percent of the French express a negative or very negative opinion of him, and the number continues to rise. Mainstream magazines describe him with an unforgiving ferocity: “The Mediocre President,” says one, “He shames us,” adds another.
Articles appeared recently comparing the situation to the 1789 Revolution and Hollande to Louis XVI, a weak King who ended up on the guillotine. Others drew comparisons to February 1934, a time when extremist groups attempted to seize the National Assembly in a context of widespread corruption and political decay. Some analysts, trying to find a ray of light amid the darkness, have spoken of a “French Spring.” But apart from the fact that the calendar says it’s spring in France, it is difficult to see anything that resembles “spring” in what is occurring.