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Almost a third of French 'weary' after a year marked by terrorism

Matthieu Alexandre, AFP | A man standing outside the Bataclan Theater in Paris on December 13 2015

“Weary”, “morose” and “mistrustful” are the three words French people say best describe their state of mind, according to a new poll, following a year in which a series of terrorist attacks targeted the country.


Around one-third of French people (31%) said they felt “weary” (lassitude) as 2015 came to a close, according to a new opinion poll published on Sunday. Almost as many people said that the words “morose” (29%) and “mistrustful” (28%) correctly expressed their mood.

The study, conducted by the polling firm OpinionWay for France’s political science research centre Cevipof, allowed people to pick more than one qualifier to describe their states of mind and asked them for their views on a variety of French institutions and subjects.

“Many French people today say that they feel disconnected, that they want out. Some mean physically, like Jews heading to Israel, or young people who want to live and work abroad,” prominent French sociologist Michel Wieviorka told the Journal de Dimanche weekly about the new study.

'Change is impossible'

“Those who stay are disinterested in a political system that they feel has abandoned them,” he continued.

Wieviorka said the study was “disconcerting” and revealed that French increasingly felt like “no change is possible”.

Interestingly, the word “fear” resonated with only 10% of people questioned as part of the study and had decreased by one percentage point since a similar study conducted at the same time last year.

It was even less prevalent than the words “serenity” (18%), “wellbeing” (16%) and “confidence” (13%), the study showed.

France officially continues to be in a state of emergency following coordinated terrorist attacks on November 13 that claimed the lives of 130 people in and around Paris. It was the deadliest violence to hit the country since World War II, and came only 10 months after three days of attacks in January that began with a brazen assault on the headquarters of satirical weekly Charlie Hebdo.

'No faith in politics'

A year marked by violence at home and abroad, notably France’s high-profile military role in Syria, may also explain shifting attitudes toward long-standing institutions.

As many as 81% of French people express confidence in the country’s army, the Cevipof study revealed, a figure that was up by five percentage points since last year. The police had earned the confidence of 75% of respondents, up by six points since 2015.

The media (24%) and political parties (12%) inspired the least amount of confidence among participants of the survey.

Tied to the negative view of French political parties, people also expressed a lack of faith in the political system in general. Only 31% of respondents agreed with the statement “Democracy in France works well,” with 67% declaring it worked “not well” or “not at all well”.

It is a troubling trend for French leaders of all political stripes, only 15 months before the country will be asked to pick its next president.

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