Banal as it may sound, bureaucracy is truly one of the worst parts of living in France. I won’t bore you with my particular travails (plural), but suffice to say that the stereotype of a labyrinthine (and laborious) system is true.
So I couldn’t help but be tickled today when Yahoo France’s main story was titled, “Sarkozy, Still French?” Seems it gets dicey for even the president of the republic to swim in these administrative waters.
The French are all for their polemics (there’s a big one on right now about “national identity”), so part of this is simply political showmanship.
Still, it’s kind of telling how the story came about:
Jean-Luc Melanchon, head of the ‘Left Party’, (and formerly with the Socialists – yes, many more than two parties here!), went to renew his French ID card. Should be easy, right? He already has one. And he’s French. And he’s a freaking government minister.
Oh, chuckle. Tee-hee. Snort.
No, naïve ones. Of course it’s not that easy.
I like Jean-Luc, because he’s in a position of power – someone for whom it’s normally easy – and decided to go public and say, you know, this system is kind of loony. He was asked to “prove things that one cannot prove” he recounts of his ordeal. (One of my stories of proving things you cannot prove was providing a “certificate of celibacy” before my wedding. For real. Promise I’ll tell you about that later).
It got him to wondering, how does Nicolas Sarkozy, born to Hungarian immigrant parents prove this stuff? Sarkozy, with all the anti-immigrant legislation he’d like on the books, Jean-Luc contends, just might not make the cut as French himself.
So still French? Well, we’ve already established that I’m an etrangere, a foreigner, a stranger. So I can never be French (French in the way the French mean it, I guess).
I would like legal French citizenship one day, though – dual nationality is like my wet dream. I’m married to a French man, so it should be possible. Part of the admissions test, however, is proving that I’m assimilated, of “good character” and “loyal to French institutions.”
Ah yes, the vagaries. As good and loyal as I’d like to think of myself, I’d agree with Jean-Luc – sounds like a darn hard thing to prove.
Well, I have a few years to work on that. And I’m getting some pretty good practice in the meantime.