Election Day

in France. The elections are for representatives to the Regional Councils, and regrettably, it was a matter not of voting for a person or party but against the far right Front National which is said to have the support of close to a third of the voters in the Paris-Ile-de-France Region. There were, for a North American, an unwieldy plethora of parties and programmes to vote for, or against. Once the results of today's vote are in, the top two contenders will have a run-off vote next Sunday. So the electoral arithmetic will come down to whether centre- left and centre-right will join forces to defeat the far right, whose programme is anti-Europe, anti-immigrant, and totally nostalgic.

We voted in the City Hall of our arrondissement, down the block, a grand but drafty old building with chambers and anti-chambers and velvet-upholstered benches for courtiers to sit upon while they wait to be received by the prince. Citizen Brahic's credentials are examined, she takes some papers for the various parties to a rickety booth, inserts one in an plain blue envelope, leaves the others on the little shelf, takes it to the urn, waits while an official finds her name on the roll, then she drops it in the urn as another official intones "a voté," signs the register and leaves, feeling--what? Virtuous? Not so much. 

We went to the Luxembourg Garden, sat in a sunny spot as long as the sun lasted, then looked for another sunny spot, higher up, further east and south. The trees now bare, dark skeletons of trees, the statues (Verlaine, Baudelaire, some stags, the "Queens and Eminent Women of France") lightly dressed, shiver in the wind, crows and a seagull move some grass clippings around, children poke at sailboats on the duck pond, the uniformed guardians march around in pairs, deep in conversations. The persimmon tree, near the sequoias, is still laden with orange fruit.