Irish in France react to Macron win: ‘It’s better to know the devil than the devil you don’t know’
news that Emmanuel Macron was re-elected as President France was received with mixed feelings across Europe.
With polling stations shut down across France, a sample of the vote predicted Mr Macron would win 58 per cent of the vote, compared with 42 per cent for his far-right rival Marine LePen.
That Irish Independent spoke to Irish people living in France to get their take on the news and for many a sense of relief seemed to be the dominant emotion.
Anna-Marie Brassil-Dreyfus (52) – “It’s better to know the devil than the devil you don’t know.”
Ms. Brassil-Dreyfus is originally from Co Louth but has lived and worked in France for over 30 years.
The mother of two lives in Taverny, a commune in the northwestern suburbs of Paris, and is married to a native of France. She became a French citizen two years ago and has dual nationality.
Ms Brassil-Dreyfus, originally from the Cooley Peninsula, voted for Mr Macron in the presidential election.
“I think the French have been very angry in recent years, you can feel that,” she said.
“I attended the vote count at our local office and noticed that there were a lot of blank votes or a lot of people just threw in blank envelopes because they didn’t want to vote for Macron or Le Pen, but they’re just trying to get theirs Demonstrate dissatisfaction and frustration.
“But at the same time, it’s important that we don’t let the far-right benefit from all this uneasiness and anger by just getting their voices.
“That’s something I felt really strong about, that I definitely have to choose, definitely it’s not going to be Le Pen coming in.
“Macron still has a lot to prove, he still has a lot of convincing to do and I think he really needs to think about how to proceed.
“He has a lot of work ahead of him, but sometimes we say it’s better to know the devil than the devil you don’t know.
“Le Pen tried to soften their approach and their looks, but there are many hidden agendas related to immigration and Europe, so for me Macron was definitely the safer option. It could have gone either way, which was pretty worrying.
“There is a lot that can be done in this country and I have full confidence in Macron and he’s had five years to see the riots so now he has to prove himself to all these unfortunate people, not just the people who voted for him but to all these people who didn’t vote for him.”
Ms Brassil-Dreyfus said the cost of living crisis is one of the main problems facing the French at the moment.
“Unfortunately, with the crisis in Ukraine, it’s the cost of living, the high increase in gasoline and I suppose all the questions about pension age reform,” she said.
“Macron also has to stick to the green agenda and he’s talking about reviving more nuclear power, but I think in general the French are unhappy with the cost of living at the moment.”
Martin Loughrey (44) – “If Le Pen had won, I would wake up in a country I didn’t want to live in anymore.”
Mr Loughrey is originally from Skerries, Co Dublin but lives in the suburbs east of Paris. He has lived in France for 14 years and has three children with his French wife.
He said he was “delighted” that Macron had gained another five years as French president.
Mr Loughrey is not a French citizen so he was unable to vote but pledged his support for the second winner.
“I’m absolutely thrilled, I think as the two weeks went by between the first and second rounds I got a little bit more concerned, especially when I started reading a bit more of what Le Pen was proposing,” he said.
“For me, it was above all the bill that she proposed to put the French ahead of everyone else in France.
“I’m kind of self-employed, I work with my wife and she started a company when we came over, so we work together. So in terms of job hunting it’s not that big of a problem, but I just wouldn’t like feeling like a second-class citizen.
“I’ve lived here for 14 years, paying my taxes and paying my social security contributions. And one of the points that she raised was putting French first and it was mentioned that dual nationality would not be accepted, people would have to give up their second nationality.
“Now I haven’t seen in detail whether naturalized French citizens would have to give up their original nationality or if it would affect my children who were born in France to a French mother and Irish father – would they also have to give up their Irish nationality? And that’s something I wouldn’t be happy about at all. So that was a big problem for me.”
Mr Loughrey said his wife shared his beliefs on the election.
“If Le Pen had won, I said it to my wife, I said I was absolutely terrified that after living in France for 14 years and being perfectly happy for most of it, I would wake up in a country where I didn’t do it. I don’t want to live in it anymore,” he said.
“She wasn’t as worried as I was, and a lot of people said, ‘Le Pen will never come in,’ but like I said, that’s what we’ve said about Brexit and that’s what we’ve said about Trump, and that’s when people think that they will never get complacent, and they do.”
Liz Ryan (69) – “There was a risk that we would end up with a Donald Trump President”
Ms Ryan is originally from Clontarf in Dublin but has lived in Normandy for the past 21 years. She said she was “relieved” that Mr Macron had secured the presidency.
“I think, like most people, we’re all very relieved that there was obviously a risk that we were going to end up with almost a Donald Trump-type president,” Ms. Ryan said.
“But Macron’s rise has been greater than expected, the polls gave him a very small margin, but in fact his ultimate voice was wider than expected.
“I think that was as surprising to him as it was to everyone else. I watched his speech and was quite surprised when he said he understood that people voted less for him than against them.
“But he’s been a very good president for the past five years, but most people just looking at the evidence couldn’t deny that he’s navigated the pandemic very well.
“Le Pen is anti-Europe and we all thought that the first thing she would do if elected was to hold a referendum that would eventually lead to ‘Frexit’, which would be an appalling situation for us.
“Being a European in France makes life a lot easier and the idea of President Le Pen holding this referendum touched our hearts, so that’s one of many reasons why we’re very glad she’s not got through.”
Ms Ryan said she believes the proposal to raise the retirement age from 62 to 65 has been the biggest issue for debate in France, a country that has changed a lot since she moved 21 years ago.
“It’s not the same France I moved to, it’s more excited, more anxious and the atmosphere has changed,” she added.
“The other important issue in France is raising the retirement age to 65. They actually retire at 55 quite often, the civil servants and the train drivers.
“Macron has made himself very unpopular in recent years by trying to raise the age to 65, which is still below the EU average.”
https://www.independent.ie/world-news/europe/irish-in-france-react-to-macron-win-its-better-the-devil-you-know-than-the-devil-you-dont-41585971.html Irish in France react to Macron win: ‘It’s better to know the devil than the devil you don’t know’