The first days were painful, marked by the avalanche of police arrests to bring to their senses the French convinced, until the last minute, that they could escape the viral tsunami from Italy. Pessimism was in order, during these fateful days of March 2020. Worse: the fact of having maintained the first round of the municipal elections on March 15 – despite the injunctions of scientific experts – quickly turned out to be a drag for the authorities French. How to demand from the population, from the day after this problematic election, that it limit its movements all at once and strictly respect the health instructions?
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Twelve months later, another France emerged. Certainly, the images of the crowded quays of the Seine in Paris prove that “barrier gestures” are still perceived by too many Parisians as a refrain without consequences. Admittedly, the summer was too deconfined and quickly tarnished by the arrival of a second wave, as elsewhere in Europe. But the French, as depressed and downcast as they are, have generally shown remarkable civility. If the mistrust in the words of the public authorities has reached worrying heights there, fueled by the initial shortages of masks and tests, then by the slowness of the vaccination campaign today, France has been showing a face of responsibility for a year. . At the two ends of the country, the reconfinements ordered on weekends in Nice and in Pas-de-Calais are taking place without major hitches.
Our neighbors are, however, far from unanimous in the face of the pandemic and the measures taken by the government. But in this country so turbulent and so quick to revolts, their “resigned acceptance” – in the words of political scientist Jérôme Fourquet – shows that reason has won and that the street is not always synonymous with chaos. As soon as the rules are clear and understandable, they are supported by mobilized local elected officials and they respect the health diversity of the territories, France knows how to be disciplined and united in the effort. It is this virtue that Emmanuel Macron must now cultivate, by showing himself as much as possible an educator, clear, lucid about the dysfunctions of the State and close to reality. To prepare the country for the end of “whatever the cost”. And draw the right lessons from this vaccine against French indiscipline called Covid-19.