New Year’s Eve passed off peacefully in France give or take the odd incident. There were 211 arrests in total, announced Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin, but overall the country saw in 2024 with good cheer.
In the days leading up to the last day of 2023, there were ominous warnings from the government about the possibility of a terrorist attack. Nearly 100,000 police, gendarmes and soldiers were deployed the length and breadth of France to counter such a threat but nothing materialised.
Emmanuel Macron is praying that 2024 will be similarly uneventful from a security point of view. As the president said in his traditional New Year’s Eve address to the nation, this year is going to be a special one for France: not only is the country hosting the summer Olympics for the first time in 100 years, but the reconstructed Notre Dame cathedral will be unveiled, five years after it was ravaged by fire. According to Macron 2024 is a year of ‘determination, choices, recovery, pride. In fact, a year of hope.’
Chief among the ‘choices’ facing the French this year is June’s European election, and Macron invoked the spirit of the recently deceased Jacques Delors in urging the electorate to do the right thing at the polling booth. ‘We will have to make the choice of a stronger, more sovereign Europe in the light of the legacy of Jacques Delors,’ stated the president, declaring that voters must choose between ‘continuing Europe or blocking it’.
By ‘blocking it’, Macron means voting for one of the two conservative groups in the European parliament. One is Identity and Democracy, which includes Marine Le Pen’s National Rally, Germany’s AfD, and Italy’s Lega.