Cresson Syndrome

Edith Cresson is a watchword in French politics for bumbling incompetence.  The much-maligned former Prime Minister (her tenure lasted less than one year from 1991 to 1992) and scandal-ridden European Commissioner managed to accumulate gaffe after gaffe in her short career, alienating supporters and enraging opponents.  Now, with the current Prime Minister, Jean-Marc Ayrault, spending a whole day backpedaling from a confusing comment on abolishing the 35 hour working week, the knives are out in the media and the opposition for a Prime Minister whose “Cressonisation” is apparently accelerating.  Is the Prime Minister really about to fall, leading to a dissolution of the National Assembly and a return of the right, as predicted by Jean-Louis Borloo? Continue reading

Taxing their Patience

Tax policy is the most effective and visible weapon of any government in a liberal democracy (the army being the weapon of choice of less democratic regimes).  This week the fiscal tanks rolled in to the French economy, with President Hollande’s government unveiling its draft budget for 2013.

Whilst the budget contains no big surprises, two changes in particular have led to outcries and backpedaling by the government within the first few days of its publication.  Now the government is playing catch-up, looking accident-prone as well as punitive.  Is the pillorying of Finance Minister Pierre Moscovici, and the Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault by the press fair? Continue reading