Opptøyer og vandalisering av jernbanestasjonen Gare du Nord har gitt høyresiden og Nikolas Sarkozy et løft i valgkampen.
En 32 år gammel kongoleser ble tatt for ikke å ha billett og havnet i klammeri med kontrollørene, som også var afrikanske. Men ryktet spredte seg om at en 14-åring var jult opp, og at en gravid kvinne var blitt gasset. Snart var hundrevis av forstadsungdommer på plass. De gikk amok: butikkvinduer ble knust. Urolighetene varte i ni timer. Da var åtte jernbaneansatte og én politimann skadet.
Vandaliseringen vekket vanlige folks raseri, og nå er innvandring, identitet og kontroll høyt på dagsorden.
ust three weeks from the first round of voting and in the wake of a mini-riot on Tuesday, there came a polarisation from all the main candidates on the issue of patriotism. And it was the hardliners who saw the benefits, with far-right leader Jean-Marie Le Pen climbing 2 per cent to 15 per cent of voting intentions in the latest CSA poll.
For the first time a survey found hardline former Interior Minister Nicolas Sarkozy hitting 30 per cent – up from 28 per cent – of voting intentions. Socialist candidate Segolene Royal was stagnating on 27 per cent and centrist Francois Bayrou slid by 3.5 points to 18 per cent.
The mood shifted sharply in the wake of Tuesday’s riot involving some 200 people in the commuter concourse of the Gare du Nord, where a fare-dodger’s arrest sparked nine hours of clashes between youths and riot police. Earlier in the week Royal had injected a nationalistic flavour into the campaign by suggesting, controversially, that French people should hang the tricolour flag from their windows on feast days.
The fall-out from the riot allowed Le Pen to return to his favoured rhetorical heartland. ‘The quasi-insurrectional climate reigning in France is the direct consequence of years of massive immigration,’ he told journalists. Royal denounced the ‘social fracture’ in France. Sarkozy, who stood down as Interior Minister on Monday to concentrate on his campaign, proclaimed himself ‘the candidate of fare-paying passengers’. He denounced Royal for having ‘lost her sense of morals’ because she wants ‘to make us believe that the youths who smashed up the Gare du Nord were reacting to an injustice’.