La Marseillaise – choosing a president

Charles de Gaulle

Charles André Joseph Marie de Gaulle

The French are, well French; they may have all of the same institutions and the same basic social structure as the English, but they are not English, nor indeed American, German, Italian or Spanish.  Nope they are French.  They voted yesterday for a new president, no one person got a clear majority so there will be a run-off election between the two top vote getters – Françcois Hollande and Nicholas Sarkozy. The third candidate, was Marine Le Pen, she was close, but not close enough; Hollande – 29%, Sarkozy – 26% and Le Pen – 19%.  Le Pen and Sarkozy have the most in common, but not quite.  He may or may not pick up most of her votes in the run-off.  The French voter is not quite so predictable, not indeed is there such no such thing as a typical French voter, or the French political opinion.  You see between Hollande and Le Pen is the complete spectrum of French politics and they are diametrically opposed.  Hollande is a left-wing socialist, a man of the workers and Le Pen represents the extreme left-wing of French politics, a woman of big business and capitalism; her party is anti-immigration and anti-socialism.

A two-week battle to the political death between the right wing Nicolas Sarkozy and the Socialist François Hollande has begun. Voters in France will have to choose between Mr. Sarkozy and Mr. Hollande, but they will be split into thirds in their very heart and political souls.  One third would like to see a return to socialistic governemnt, shorter work-weeks, longer vacations and more benefits for the workers, while one third would like to end the socialistic influence in government, a lengthened work-week, reduced benefits; the want to concentrate on building up the French economy through capitalism – economic patriotism it is called.  And in the middle are the menu-picking Frenchmen, give me a little of this from the left and a little of this from the right.

The left believes in the Europe Union;  a worker based philosophy accepting that all workers, regardless of where they live, are the same; the right wants out of the EU and believes  the French are different and unique and should rid themselves of all foreign influences and indeed the presence of foreigners.  Sarkozy has tried to tap dance between to the two extremes, but leaning toward the right.  In the run up to the voting, Sarkozy moved farther to the right taking an anti immigration and anti Islamic stance whenever possible.  The run-off will be a  contest between the left and the right, French style.  The first commentators are predicting that Hollande will win, citing Sarkozy’s failure to fix the French economy and his declining popularity in part based on egotistic life style.  Whoever wins the showdown one thing is certain, the next president of France will not be German, English, American, Spanish or Italian – he will be a Frenchman.  The next president of France will share with all other Frenchmen, Marat, Napoleon, Joan of Arch and Charles De Gaulle, they will all march together behind the tri-colors singing La Marseillaise.


Let’s go children of the fatherland,
The day of glory has arrived!
Against us tyranny’s
Bloody flag is raised! (repeat)
In the countryside, do you hear
The roaring of these fierce soldiers?
They come right to our arms
To slit the throats of our sons, our friends!


Grab your weapons, citizens!
Form your battalions!
Let us march! Let us march!
May impure blood
Water our fields!


~ ~ ~ ~

This horde of slaves, traitors, plotting kings,
What do they want?
For whom these vile shackles,
These long-prepared irons? (repeat)
Frenchmen, for us, oh! what an insult!
What emotions that must excite!
It is us that they dare to consider
Returning to ancient slavery!

What! These foreign troops
Would make laws in our home!
What! These mercenary phalanxes
Would bring down our proud warriors! (repeat)
Good Lord! By chained hands
Our brows would bend beneath the yoke!
Vile despots would become
The masters of our fate!

Tremble, tyrants! and you, traitors,
The disgrace of all groups,
Tremble! Your parricidal plans
Will finally pay the price! (repeat)
Everyone is a soldier to fight you,
If they fall, our young heroes,
France will make more,
Ready to battle you!

Frenchmen, as magnanimous warriors,
Bear or hold back your blows!
Spare these sad victims,
Regretfully arming against us. (repeat)
But not these bloodthirsty despots,
But not these accomplices of Bouillé,
All of these animals who, without pity,
Tear their mother’s breast to pieces!

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Sacred love of France,
Lead, support our avenging arms!
Liberty, beloved Liberty,
Fight with your defenders! (repeat)
Under our flags, let victory
Hasten to your manly tones!
May your dying enemies
See your triumph and our glory!


We will enter the pit
When our elders are no longer there;
There, we will find their dust
And the traces of their virtues. (repeat)
Much less eager to outlive them
Than to share their casket,
We will have the sublime pride
Of avenging them or following them!


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April 2012
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