Happy Anniversary

It has been a little over a year since the election of France’s second Socialist president. However, now that the left occupy the executive and legislative branches, there seems to be some buyer’s remorse.  Whilst few would have predicted that the return of the left to power would be at a time of economic crisis, social turbulence and an opposition both more divided and more visceral than ever before, added to that are historically low approval ratings, making a dangerous cocktail.

This first anniversary of the Socialist administration has been met with an orgy of circumspection, analysis, debating and soul-searching on the left, the right and centre as to the meaning to be found in the first year of this new Socialist government.  The right has characterised the first year as a “total failure”, with the country verging on collapse. The centre has largely tacked with the right. The far left has screeched at broken promises and betrayal. But where does the truth lies in all of this? Continue reading

Advertisements

Competing over Competitiveness

And so Louis finally handed in his report.  Mr Gallois, who faced, as I have blogged previously, the difficult decision of what medicine to prescribe to an obviously ill patient, published his report on French competitiveness yesterday.  The report was met with suspicion by trades-union, acclaim by the right, the centre and employers’ associations, and consternation by the government.

Ruled out immediately was the suggestion to pursue research into shale gas – a big no-no for the Greens.  However the key measure – finding some other source of financing the social security system by reducing employers’ and employees’ payroll taxes by 20 and 10 million euros respectively – has no become an unquestioned dogma in French politics.  The question is how to pay for it.  So who will the government stick with the bill? Continue reading

Everybody’s Talking About Louis

Louis Gallois is an interesting character.  A leading figure of the centre left, he has spent most of his career, after a stint behind the scenes in government, leading massive industrial machines: the SNCF national railway operator, and EADS, the aviation giant that owns Airbus.  He also might be the most stereotypically French looking man since General de Gaulle.

This is a man with Socialist sympathies who knows business, particularly international business.  It was therefore with some confidence that the government announced that he would take the role of Investment Commissioner and produce a report on competitiveness in the French economy, which would propose measures that the government would use as a blueprint for reforming the economy.  Now as leaks and rumours seem to be spiralling out of control, the government appears to be backpedaling on the importance of the report and the media is using it to bludgeon the President and Prime Minister.  And it hasn’t even been published yet.  What went wrong, and what should the government do? Continue reading