The First Test

1807149_3_c0cd_patrick-devedjian-le-16-decembre-a-antony_360916830c5f70995f09e6ff1aa01021Special elections, or by-elections, are usually an uncomfortable experience for sitting governments.  The death of an MP, a personal disgrace or a promotion often result in the reshuffling of the parliamentary pack of cards and voters use their unexpected opportunity to send a message to those on high.

What is unusual however is a string of by-elections so soon after victory, but France held this month three legislative by-elections following the invalidation of the June election in those constituencies.  Whilst the Socialists were rightly expecting the experience to be unpleasant, the UMP was cock-a-hoop: despite the pathetic infighting which only recently died down to a quiet murmur, the right’s vote held up well.  But these three constituencies each tell us something different about the state of public opinion, and it isn’t very good news for anyone. Continue reading

Working the System

Laurence Parisot has often eclipsed her union counterparts.  Can she do it again?Since June, and the beginning of a round of talks between social partners who framework was established by the newly elected Hollande administration, employers’ representatives and trades union have been discussing the reform of France’s labour market rules.  Unions want to create more rights for employees, employers want more flexibility, in particular the ability to furlough or even fire staff during downturns.  The negotiation has until the end of the year to come to an agreement, failing which the government has promised it will legislate.  The negotiation is currently at a crucial phase, and a recently leaked proposal by employers gives us a peek inside this most difficult of discussions.  But at the end of the year, will France hit its own labour code cliff? Continue reading