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You can keep your passionate politics
YOU have to hand it to the French, they do a good election. Or at least they throw an impressive victory party.
Contrast the crowds in the Place de la Bastille in Paris who greeted Francois Hollande on Sunday evening after his victory with our own staged, rather awkward small gatherings of party faithful bussed down to Downing Street to half-heartedly cheer home our newly elected leaders.
When David Cameron arrived back from Buckingham Palace after finally being declared the winner two years ago he was even booed by some – also bussed in – opposition supporters.
Had anyone dared to jeer at the spot of the old Bastille prison in the French capital on Sunday, the very place that symbolises the right of the people to elect their leaders, I suspect they would have been for Madame Guillotine.
The French, though, do get excited about their elections.
They need to. It hasn’t been easy for them.
Since they first chopped off the head of their king some 200 years ago they’ve managed to win and lose their republic several times.
The last time it came close was in the 1960s with an attempted army coup over the loss of their colony in Algeria.
In comparison we have been plodding onwards with our democracy since Magna Carta in 1215, chopping off the odd monarch’s head along the way but avoiding the hysteria of revolution since Cromwell in 1642.
Indeed, such is our lack of appetite for democratic hysterics we still retain and treasure our monarch, and even our unelected upper house in Parliament includes 99 members who are there through birth.
And while some may wish for the sweeping away here, too, in Britain, of the last vestiges of the old order and the ushering in of a more passionate democracy, I look at what many of those nations that have lurched violently through political change – Germany, Italy, Spain, Russia, China, France – with their dictators, civil wars, terrors, even genocide, and remain happy we are a nation of democratic plodders.
Vive la Difference, as they might say in Eastleigh.
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