PARIS – She appeared first, smiling and dressed simply like every Parisian girl
today, all in black, calf-length trousers and ballerina flats.
Carla!” shouted the crowd, voters and the just curious, among them journalists,
photographers and TV crews from the entire world.
They were all waiting
in front of Lycée Jean de la Fontaine, 32 Boulevard Murat, in the 16th
arrondissement, the location of a polling station where outgoing French
President Nicolas Sarkozy and his Italian wife, the ex-top model Carla Bruni,
were expected to vote at 11:30 a.m. To find the polling station, one must exit
the Porte d’Auteuil Metro station, at the corner of Rue de Montmorency where the
couple lives, and follow the flags and police officers along the
Then we saw him.
“Nicolas! Nicolas! We will win! We
will win!” The chanters, all supporters of Sarkozy, wanted to believe in his victory and that “everything becomes
possible,” shouting the slogan of his previous and victorious campaign of 2007,
which had the same strong impact as Obama’s 2008 “Yes we can.”
“I am sad
for my president, he looks very tired,” said Odile Spiegler, who shares her time
between her beloved France and Israel. Spiegler has lived in Netanya since
marrying Israeli soccer legend Mordechai Spiegler, after having having been
married the first time in Neuilly, near Paris, in a ceremony conducted by
Sarkozy, then the mayor of the little town.
Another woman spoke about
François Bayrou, the leader of the center-right, who on Thursday announced his
intention to vote for the Socialist Party’s François Hollande. “He is against
the program of Hollande but he votes against Sarkozy. France is not important
for him, only his personal feelings,” she said.
Hearing that at the
security gate Liona, a journalist for the Italian TV station RAI, said that
throughout the campaign, everywhere in France she noticed that “there is a very
hard anti-Sarkozy feeling, just like in Italy with Silvio
She added that “there is a big interest in Italy in these
elections, because of the European and economic implications.”
[Sarkozy] is the only one who can save us,” answered a blonde woman, for whom
“the other one [Hollande] doesn’t know anything or how to speak to the US. He
has had a full facelift, and his companion, Valérie Trierweiler, a journalist
from Paris Match, is an intriguer.”
This day could be considered “The
Longest Day,” at the end of which “everything is really possible,” as I was told
in an Auteuil café by a friend who is a French ambassador in
According to him, the reason is “the universal right to direct
voting, a way of voting that is typically European and which gives every citizen
the ability to decide and change everything.”
Maybe he is just hoping for
Sarkozy’s reelection but still he is aware of the difficulties and not very
The day was gray, rainy, like the original “longest day” of
June 6, 1944, not sunny as one would expect in May in Paris.
was closed except the schools where the polling stations are located. It’s a
public holiday. I remembered that Tuesday, May 8, is also holiday commemorating
the victory in Europe at the end of World War II in 1945, and many people will
not work on Monday, the day after the election, since it is an tradition in
France to make the election a long weekend. It was also like this last week on
A thought occurred to me that France is a country filled with
Even if officially the Socialist Party was not talking
about a victory and the preparations it is making, I saw workers preparing the
Place de la Bastille for a possible victory feast later at night. It happened
like this last time in 1981, the only time that a Socialist (François
Mitterrand) was the victor.
By midday, the TV stations were announcing a
30.66-percent voter turn out so far, with 18% of people expected to abstain,
according to the press.
The polls are obstinately carrying on giving
Hollande victory, but Sarkozy also is stubborn, believing that he might spring a
“There is a chance at the finish,” said Jean Francois Copé, the
head of Sarkozy’s UMP party, whose activists and supporters were waiting
nervously late into the afternoon and in the early evening for the results at
the Mutualité convention center in Paris, while the Socialists filled the entire
building at 10 Rue de Solferino, the Socialist Party headquarters. All the
surrounding streets were full of supporters and media from all around the world
waiting for the next French president.
On the Left, nobody is seriously
“Anti-Sarkozyism is so strong,” explains one of the
people in charge. The Left has benefited from a favorable atmosphere created by
the economic crisis and the persistent unpopularity of Sarkozy.