In the aftermath of last Thursday's tragic truck attack in Nice, France which killed 84 and injured hundreds, public opinion turned even more sour on the country's increasingly unpopular Prime Minister Manuel Valls, who said that "times have changed, and France is going to have to live with terrorism, and we must face this together and show our collective sang-froid", a statement which many took as an admission of defeat toward the terrorist threat sweeping across France in particular, and Europe in general.
The French resentment toward its Prime Minister was on full display again today, when Valls was loudly booed at memorial service to remember the victims of the Nice terror attack. The prime minister attended the service alongside the Mayor of Nice, Philippe Pradal, the regional president Christian Estrosi and the reigning prince of nearby Monaco, Prince Albert.
Valls was booed as he went to sign the book of condolence at the memorial service on the Promenade des Anglais. “Resignation!” “Murderers” was shouted by the crowds before and after the ceremony. Others shouted "You're not wanted here!" and "You are the terrorist!" ahead of the one minute of silence that thousands observed.
While the crowd was furious with Valls, it cheered to celebrate the work of the emergency services, who were applauded with shouts of “Thank you firefighters!” They broke in applause and raised their fists in the air when they heard the French national anthem.
Tensions are running high over the French government's handling of security in the country when it was revealed Mr Estrosi's request for more security at the event was denied despite France being in a state of emergency stemming from the Paris attacks in November.
Many blame President Francois Hollande's Socialist administration for falling to prevent the three major Isis-inspired terror attacks on French soil in the past 18 months which have now killed more than 200 people. Hollande and Valls were also booed and jeered at by onlookers on Friday when they visited the site of the attack on the promenade with Estrosi.
Quoted by The Independent, local resident Isabel, who declined to give her surname, said she did not boo but understood why tensions are running high. She said: "They want him (Mr Valls) to resign because he didn't put enough police on on the day. I was there (on Thursday) and didn't see police. It's terrible to say but we need a stronger prime minister with laws against radicalism."
And while the existing government continues to slide in the polls, its approval rating tumbling with every new attack on French soil, one person keeps on winning: the National Front's party leader, Marine Le Pen, cited by many as the most likely next French president. Marine Le Pen, the leader of the National Front, issued a statement on Friday denouncing the Bastille Day attack. She blamed “the scourge of Islamist fundamentalism” for the attack, which killed at least 84 people, even though officials have not yet attributed responsibility for it.
According to the most recent survey published by Le Monde one month ago, with one year to go until the French 2017 presidential elections, Hollande was polling at 14% while likely Republican candidate and former president Nicolas Sarkozy scored 21%. The clear winner of the poll was Marine Le Pen who was favoured by 28% of those surveyed. We expect that the most recent deadly attack will only further cement her lead in the polls.