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URLI/Gamma-Rapho/Getty Images

Zeitgeist

The French really are Les Misérables

URLI/Gamma-Rapho/Getty Images

The French aren’t arrogant, they’re “miserable”, says data analyst Tom Forth in his blog. In polls and discussions, they’ll take the most negative position possible: “Tell them that France is a model country because of its low inequality and they’ll moan that taxes are too high. Celebrate their successful industries like in luxury goods and they’ll moan that taxes are too low.” In January 2020, Emmanuel Macron only had a 40% approval rating, but in a survey offering nearly two dozen alternatives for leader, respondents still picked him.

France’s “performative miserabilism” also applies to vaccines. It has one of the world’s highest rates of vaccine hesitancy – but 94% of French care-home residents have now been jabbed, with no “mass refusal”. The French moan about the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine, but will take it if offered, just as they moan about Macron, but will vote for him next year. We shouldn’t really ask them anything in polls. “Just give them some choices and ask them to pick the least awful.”