Friday, July 8, 2011

Constitutionalizing Social Partner Negotiations

I said the other day that Bernard Girard had persuaded me that I was misinterpreting François Hollande's somewhat cryptic remarks about "constitutionalizing negotiations between the social partners." This was really in the tradition of French social democracy, the argument went. So I decided to move on.

But now I learn from Jean-Luc Mélenchon's blog (the amount this man manages to write while running for president is astonishing, and I have no doubt that he writes it all himself, for better and for worse) that Hollande's remarks found two supporters I wasn't previously aware of: Alain Madelin, the ultraliberal, and Laurence Parisot, the head of the MEDEF. The plot thickens. What's more, according to Mélenchon, Hollande has ignored several invitations to debate the issue and clarify his position.

En fait le plus étrange dans cette affaire c’est l’attitude de François Hollande après que deux personnes ont répondu à son texte. Quelle attitude ? Il ne dit rien, ne contacte personne, n’écrit rien de plus. Bref, un petit prout et puis s’en va. Ce n’est pas du mépris, juste de la gaminerie. Il avance ses idées comme ses blagues. Rien de constant, et mépris amusé pour tous. S’intéresse-t-il seulement à son idée ? Ou bien n’est-elle là que pour dire « je me suis exprimé ». C’est à croire qu’il n’a pas écrit lui-même son texte. Car qui a souffert à écrire compact sur des sujets aussi complexe ne lâche pas prise si facilement que le fait François Hollande. Croyez-moi. J’ai passé une soirée à écrire ma réponse.
I will return to this issue as I learn more. As Mélenchon says, it isn't a small matter, and the support of Madelin and Parisot has me wondering what's up. But at this point, I don't know enough to say.

The substance of Mélenchon's critique of Hollande is here.

1 comment:

Dionyssis G. Dimitrakopoulos said...


It seems to me that both views have a degree of truth in them but if the context is taken into account, yours is closer to reality. While Girard’s view reflects social democratic doctrine and practice as it has evolved in advanced social democratic regimes such as Scandinavia, it is worth pointing out that this happened in countries where the level of unionisation is very high (70 per cent in Sweden, even higher in Norway). In France, by contrast, where the level of unionisation is very low (especially in the private sector) the implementation of Hollande’s proposal risks de facto enhancing the bargaining power of le patronat. For the French governments of the Left, given the low level of unionisation, “il n’y a que la loi” as a former French PM put it to me. This reality is often concealed by the fact that, in the past, collective agreements covered very large numbers of workers. It is worth noting that many of the reforms that they introduced, have followed failed (or stillborn) attempts to launch negotiations between unions and employers. The 35-hour working week is a very good example. That Parisot supports Hollande’s proposals speaks volumes.

It also seems to me that this might be an attempt on Hollande’s part to create a centrist image and thus distance himself from Martine Aubry.