Tuesday, January 12, 2010
As I predicted, the Conseil Constitutionnel's decision on the carbon tax has led to criticism of its operation more generally, most notably from Patrick Devedjian. Devedjian's critique, though not empty of substance, skirts the real issue, which is the textual and logical basis on which the CC ought to base its decisions. The CC, by its nature, operates on a more abstract level than the US Supreme Court. Cases arise not out of actual harm to individuals or groups after a law is promulgated but rather prior to promulgation, as the result of a complaint of unconstitutionality by a political minority defeated in the legislature. This political logic troubles Devedjian, but even more troubling to him is its nakedness: the CC is not bound to take technical advice, hear opposing arguments, or study the legislative history of the laws it strikes down. Devedjian would prefer that politics be dressed up in judicial finery. His opinion may matter, since he is rumored to be under consideration for an appointment to the CC. This would, in American football parlance, have the effect of running interference for Jean Sarkozy, since Devedjian still has some support in what is evidently destined to become the fief of Prince Jean.
Is Renault planning to outsource production of its Clio model to Turkey? The rumors have drawn a sharp response from the government, in the person of industry minister Christian Estrosi. "Don't try it," he warns. The state holds 15 percent of Renault. Neoliberalism meets politics. Who will win? I'll bet on politics in the short term and economics in the long. Frontal assault on the citadels of the state is not the way of big French business. These things are best handled quietly. It's better if plants seem to die natural deaths than if they succumb to assisted suicide.