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In the Châteaudun market little is said about the presidential elections in France | International

On Thursday there is a market in Châteaudun. One hopes to have the opportunity to speak with many people, to share with the distributors of electoral propaganda and to press, let’s say, the collective mood of the population. But rain and wind drive buyers away, no one offers a sad brochure, and what comes across is a curious apathy. Such a hypotensive presidential election is not remembered here. “Whoever wins, nothing is going to change and prices will continue to rise,” says the greengrocer, who does not intend to go to the polls on Sunday.

The other day a Norman pilgrim passed through this square (Plaza 18 de Octubre, date of the glorious defeat against the Prussians) on his way to Santiago de Compostela. Three months of walking. Alain, the pilgrim, environmental advisor to a municipality, had signed powers of attorney for his wife to vote on his behalf. “Fascism must be stopped, we have Marine Le Pen at the gates of the presidency,” he proclaimed. The market clientele, on the other hand, seems to be more interested in curbing inflation.

“As I was saying, the rise in fuel prices has reached unbearable limits,” declares a gentleman. “How was he saying?” Indeed. It turns out that a team from ARD, the great German public television, has been screening the market for some time with a camera and a sound boom. To add to the complication, the local newspaper, L´Écho Républicain, has reported in its Thursday edition on the presence of German and Spanish journalists in Châteaudun, “the mirror of France, where since 2002 the electoral results are almost identical to those of the entire country, sometimes even in decimals”. It would seem that there are staff who come from home with the speech rehearsed, just in case.

Marie-Joséphine, a smiling lady, anticipates that she has not yet decided on her vote and that she may not even vote. Then she blurts out: “This looks like a referendum on Marine Le Pen. Nothing else is talked about, Marine yes, Marine no. And I say: why not? Marie-Joséphine thinks that Emmanuel Macron “has not approached the French, he likes his palace in Paris too much”. “When the people in the yellow vests were at the roundabout blocking traffic,” she continues, “I brought them coffee because they were right.”

In general, however, one finds ambiguous answers and a very moderate interest in Sunday’s elections. “I had never noticed such indifference”, acknowledges the owner of Le Commerce, the central brasserie where this envoy has lunch with the mayor. “In any previous election here there would be discussions, or at least they would talk about politics and candidates, and people would pass by handing out flyers,” he explains. “This year there is talk of the war in Ukraine and the economy, and the things of each one, more than the presidential ones.”

“In the first round I will vote for the Republicans [Valérie Pécresse es la candidata de la derecha tradicional, con poquísimas posibilidades de alcanzar la segunda vuelta] and then I will cover my nose and vote for Macron as the lesser evil”, announces a retiree in front of the chicken stall. He is accompanied by his wife, who makes faces. “Doesn’t she agree with her husband, ma’am?” “Everyone will know what he does,” he replies, refusing to say more. “Le Pen is like Putin. Is that what you want?” replies the man. The couple leaves, perhaps a little sulky.

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The greengrocer has been in Châteaudun for 20 years. He used to live in the south. His family is of North African origin. What worries him is that the clientele no longer asks for tomatoes of that type or that, but “the cheapest”. While he holds up the awning so that the wind doesn’t blow it away, he explains that markets like this are running out of steam and large stores monopolize the trade. “That means profits are concentrated in Paris and the small farmer has no margin,” he says. “When I retire, no one will take my place.”

Dominate fatalism. During lunch Fabien Verdier himself, the center-left mayor, comments that Marine Le Pen will be president. “If not this time, then next time,” he sighs. Having said this, he resumes his speech about the great opportunities that Châteaudun offers to private investors.

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