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Francois Hollande during a Jan. 13 ceremony paying tribute to victims of the Charlie Hebdo attack.
Francois Hollande during a Jan. 13 ceremony paying tribute to victims of the Charlie Hebdo attack.
David Revault d'Allonnes

PARIS — What just happened? This question, which is still on everybody’s lips after Sunday’s historic rallies, goes beyond the three days of massacres that have shaken France, and also applies to its president. François Hollande has indeed seen an astounding reversal of fortunes. His popularity was stuck at its lowest levels just a week ago, but after these events, the Socialist Party president, though not redeemed yet, has been propelled to the front of an unprecedented political movement he couldn’t have dreamed of. As someone close to him even admitted, “these are terrible events, but for him it’s not so bad.”

The political analysis is clear: It's been top marks on all fronts. Denounced for his lack of authority and his inaptitude to make clear decisions, he has led the police operations with “composure and determination,” according to an insider. Often criticized for his failure to embody the presidential function, he looked like he belonged at the center of Sunday's march with the other world leaders.

Contested even inside his own center-left majority, he placed himself at the fulcrum of an almost perfect consensus, embracing the entire political spectrum — even his fiercest opponent, Nicolas Sarkozy, was for a time relegated to the background of the photo. Only Marine Le Pen, the leader of the far-right National Front party, tried to play her card but was unsuccessful.

The most unpopular president in the history of the Fifth Republic, François Hollande was leading the biggest march since the liberation of the country in 1944. The president's natural taste for consensus, which until last week was high on the list of criticisms against him, is exactly what is now earning him praise. The paradox is striking.

Of course, popular marches and the national catharsis are also misleading, as they mask the aggregation of different categories of the population and the absence of some that don’t feel affected. But Hollande, who’s well-versed in the much-criticized method of bringing people together on the least common denominator, has managed to smoothly accompany the popular reaction. It’s as if, in order to finally work, the president’s way needed a large-scale national traumatic event.

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Society

End Of Roe v. Wade, The World Is Watching

As the Supreme Court decides to overturn the 1973 decision that guaranteed abortion rights, many fear an imminent threat to abortion rights in the U.S. But in other countries, the global fight for sexual and reproductive rights is going in different directions.

"Don't abort my right" At 2019 pro-choice march In Toulouse, France.

Alain Pitton/NurPhoto via ZUMA
Hannah Steinkopf-Frank and Sophia Constantino

PARIS — Nearly 50 years after it ensured the right to abortion to Americans, the United States Supreme Court overturned the Roe v. Wade case, meaning that millions of women in the U.S. may lose their constitutional right to abortion.

The groundbreaking decision is likely to set off a range of restrictions on abortion access in multiple states in the U.S., half of which are expected to implement new bans on the procedure. Thirteen have already passed "trigger laws" that will automatically make abortion illegal.

U.S. President Joe Biden called the ruling "a tragic error" and urged individual states to enact laws to allow the procedure.

In a country divided on such a polarizing topic, the decision is likely to cause major shifts in American law and undoubtedly spark outrage among the country’s pro-choice groups. Yet the impact of such a momentous shift, like others in the United States, is also likely to reverberate around the world — and perhaps, eventually, back again in the 50 States.

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