It was Easter Sunday in Nice, France’s fifth-largest city, exactly one week before the first round of the country’s presidential election. In the old town, there were armed police guarding the Cathedral of Sainte-Réparate—part of the country’s continuing state of emergency. Inside, the church was full. A few minutes’ walk away, the Promenade des Anglais, the Mediterranean city’s famous seaside walkway that was the site of last July’s devastating terrorist attack, was also packed.
To voter fatigue we can add news fatigue. When Theresa May announced a June election, to add to the votes Britons had already cast in 2015 and 2016, to say nothing of the Scottish referendum in 2014, only part of the reaction – captured so perfectly by Brenda, she of the viral “Not another one!” video – was weariness at the prospect of enduring yet more politics. There is a wider exhaustion too, at the sheer pace of events.
Imagine a hostage situation. The captive’s family members are wracked with anxiety, desperate to come up with almost any solution that might bring their loved one out alive and in one piece. They are terrified at what the kidnapper might have in mind. He has made clear his loathing for both the hostage and his entire family. He has vowed to seek their “destruction”. As always in such a crisis, there is contact between the two sides.