Friday, May 22, 2009

Two Years

The blog marked its second birthday yesterday. It's grown a lot: about 50 people read the first posts, compared with about 800 hits a day now (and a daily average of more than 1,200 "views" via Feedburner). Ironically, the interest of French politics seems to me to have diminished. In May of 2007 major changes seemed imminent. A new president and a new generation had taken power; Sarkozy had made overtures to the opposition; and, like it or not, a large majority, over 70 percent, either endorsed or accepted the need for substantial changes in the French economic and social model.

Two years later, we have The Economist featuring a cover in which the French model, essentially unreformed, is depicted as the survivor in the world financial meltdown. Sarkozy has (more or less) enacted his reforms, but the changes seem more incremental than far-reaching. 70 percent approval has turned into 70 percent disapproval (though a recent bounce has reduced this to something closer to 60 percent). France's problems seem to transcend the powers of its government, so that the day-to-day political often seems strangely irrelevant to what's on people's minds. The Socialist Party, whose reconstruction I had expected to be one of the major stories of the past two years, remains pretty much where it was immediately after the defeat: rudderless, divided, and unheard.

Some days it seems almost pointless to write about French politics.

Effectiveness of RSA

The Revenu de Solidarité Active (RSA), France's experiment with improving welfare-to-work incentives, appears to have a slight positive effect on getting the assisted into gainful employment, according to a new study.