Things are spicing up over in France. Not content with tear-gassing British children, the Parisian gendarmerie seem to be turning on their own disgruntled citizens.
Last night passengers at Paris's Gare de L'Est scrambled to get aboard a replacement bus after a train broke down at the station. Instead of trying to shepherd irritated travellers into orderly queues, the French police instead decided to fire off pepper spray into the crowd. People can be seen reeling after having been sprayed with the chemical agent, usually reserved for out-of-control rioters rather than frustrated commuters.
— BFMTV (@BFMTV) June 5, 2022
Panne de train à gare de l'Est: les forces de l'ordre ont fait usage de gaz lacrymogène pour disperser les passagers pic.twitter.com/1CmkdpTjaM
This is starting to look like a real problem for President Emmanuel Macron. Last week's authoritarian policing at the Stade de France, which saw thousands of Liverpool fans beaten, gassed and possibly groped, backfired terribly for the Élysée.
Macron's interior minister Gérald Darmanin initially tried to blame the fans, a wheeze that failed to satisfy frustrated voters. Socialist Jean-Luc Mélenchon called it a ‘complete failure of police strategy’ while Marine le Pen demanded the interior minister resign. The French, normally not averse to a little metaphorical Brit bashing, are altogether less sanguine when there are real batons and police aggression involved.
With the first round of the legislative elections only a week away, it seems unlikely that Macron will force Darmanin out. Much like Macron himself, the French police have always had an authoritarian streak. They see cracking skulls as an essential part of the job rather than a last resort. Perhaps French voters will deal a blow of their own to Macron's chances. Polls suggest a narrowing in the closing stages of the race, with the left-wing coalition nudging up against Macron's centrists.
After years of attempting to punish the UK for leaving the EU, Mr S would enjoy the sweet irony of watching Macron become a lame-duck president thanks to the ill-treatment of Britons.