Socialists don’t know 'real work': Sarkozy’s desperate Mayday call
While the rest of Europe prances around a maypole or reaches for the Alka-Seltzer, the good people of France spend their national holiday and day off work celebrating, er, work. It’s a historic pastime for the continent’s most passionate strikers – May 1st represents the day they gained the right to paid holiday (way back in 1936) – and has been described as a “religious feast” for the country’s almighty trade unions. Indeed. It’s like Christmas for lefties.
So what on earth was stalwart conservative and master of bling-bling, Nicolas Sarkozy, doing gatecrashing the party with his own rally on their sacred day?
If you ask the president himself (which is precisely what astounded French journalists did last week), he’ll tell you that his May Day party is not merely celebrating work, but real work. With a smirk that would have his former spin-doctors turning in their graves (all having died of heart attacks, naturally), Sarkozy proudly told reporters that his party would celebrate not just work, but “real work” and “people who work hard”. Unlike all those leftist bastards who drive around in Porsches and go yachting in Saint Tropez, right? Oh no wait, that’s Sarkozy himself, doh! He must be talking about the endless stream of illegal immigrants who are eating that secret stash of gold-coated truffles in the Louvre basement.
Anyway... What ensued was a battle of work parties in the capital. While trade unionists and leftwingers amassed to celebrate work on one side of the city, Sarkozy groupies joined hands to celebrate real work on the other. Even far-right leader Marine Le Pen joined in the contest with her own gathering (although her National Front party, popular among the working class, always holds a May Day rally). We were half-expecting her to call it “The really real work party”.
Mayday! Mayday! Sarkozy is going under
While Sarkozy’s May Day appearance was deemed a most terrible indignity among France’s leftwing population, it wasn’t entirely unjustified. Yapping at the heels of Socialist candidate François Hollande since day one of the election campaign, Sarkozy has never quite managed to get ahead of the bespectacled frontrunner. His only hope now is of winning over a few (well, a million), last minute voters. So a whole day devoted entirely to celebrating leftwing values, just five days before the election? You can see his point.
Hollande, on the other hand, was able to enjoy the day off with his comrades, resting his voice before Wednesday’s big debate with the pesky ankle-snapper in question. In a smug poke in Sarkozy’s direction, Hollande told reporters that of course he would not be working on May Day. The whole point of having the day off is to celebrate workers’ rights. Going to work – i.e.: giving a speech – would be a sign of disrespect to the country’s workforce (take that, Sarko!).
An excellent excuse, François, and no doubt a point of view shared by most French workers, but you have all but forgotten Mr Sarkozy’s new slogan. You are clearly a lazy good-for-nothing benefit-scrounging skiver, who is not at work simply because you do not know the value of real work.
Better be ready for the debate tomorrow. That is, if you don’t call in sick!
If you want to follow Wednesday’s televised debate between Sarkozy and Hollande, log onto the France24.com homepage at 9pm Paris time and check into our live blog for minute-by-minute updates in English.