Monday, January 30, 2012

The French Style of Governance

How many other heads of state anywhere have the luxury that Nicolas Sarkozy has, of going on television to announce major policy changes on a Sunday afternoon and fully expecting those changes to be enacted into law by a rubber-stamp legislature within a week or two:


Après les mesures annoncées dimanche 29 janvier par Nicolas Sarkozy, comment celles-ci vont-elles trouver une traduction législative ? Le dispositif parlementaire devait être arrêté lundi après-midi à Matignon.
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Ces deux textes doivent d'abord être transmis au Conseil d'Etat avant d'être présentés au conseil des ministres. Même en observant des délais d'examen rapides, cela reporte la présentation au conseil du mercredi 8 février.
This legislative docility is all the more remarkable to behold given the fact that the president seems about to lead his party straight into a wall. In the resulting carambolage, many deputies will lose their seats. In such circumstances in, say, the US, one might expect a fairly substantial party rebellion at the announcement of a last-minute tax hike and major changes in economic policy. But in France ... at most murmurs in the backbenches of the majority.

6 comments:

Mr Punch said...

It seems to me that Sarkozy is trying to play the "war president" role with regard to the financial crisis - he's willing to take the hard decisions that others won't (and that everyone knows must be taken), so like him or not he's the indispensable man. Whether this is worth the risk, for him or the deputies, depends on how negatively they assess their electoral prospects otherwise.

Anonymous said...

Hmp, raising the VAT on everything except bars and restaurants, really, "the hard decision everyone knows must be taken"? If President Sarkozy thinks that for real, he's delusional. Not many people see this as a good idea, first because of purchasing power issues but also because it's dubious it'll help anything. Just read the NYT's series about China.
http://www.nytimes.com/2012/01/22/business/apple-america-and-a-squeezed-middle-class.html
Do you really think a few cents off will convince the enthusiastic manager to bring industrial jobs back to the Western world?
Another example: http://www.nytimes.com/2012/01/27/opinion/krugman-jobs-jobs-and-cars.html
Or a practical application on the Lejaby star product. (Lejaby's is being outsourced.)
http://intox2007.info/?p=4433
Furthermore, it gave an easy target for Hollande, who's added to his stump speech "I won't increase the VAT and if the law passes I'll change it back".

Anonymous said...

That's called députés godillots and the UMP "deputies" are not happy. Watch the news - whenever they're interviewed, they express their doubts about Sarkozy.
In fact punfits are now openly talking on TV about a "Chaban/VGE" hypothesis. I didn't know anything about either, but there was a neat summary by a disgraced PS politician here:
http://juliendray.blogspot.com/2012/01/le-facteur-bayrou.html
I'm wondering whether some gaullistes might not start endorsing Bayrou instead of Sarkozy, especially if they're treated with such blatant disregard as "rubber stamps".
A pundit stated that Bayrou is Hollande's and Sarkozy's worst nightmare: for Hollande because Bayrou would be harder to beat than Sarkozy, for Sarkozy because it'd mean UMP's out of the run off for president. The pundit's conclusion: they both hope Sarkozy's not going to collapse, splitting votes on the right between Bayrou and Le Pen, making the election too volatile.
I didn't especially believe that idea a week ago when it was brought up, but the fact Sarkozy's conference was moved out of the "headline news" for the snow storm does tell me things have slided quite a bit for him. He's still the president, but no one really believes he'll still be there come May. Whether this in warranted is in dispute, of course,
Originally, one of Sarkozy' plans was to help the Fn rise so that he'd face Marine Le Pen. Now, his problem has shifted and there's tangible panic on the right because Hollande was supposed to collapse instead rose instead, people were supposed to rally behind the retirement reform and the sturdy, courageous head of state but haven't as of yet, and a Bayrou surge wasn't in the plans.
Myos

Mr Punch said...

Anonymous (1) argues that proposing a tax increase months before an election is not a hard decision; most politicians would disagree -- which was in fact the point of the original post.

Anonymous said...

Actually I wasn't arguing that it was a hard decision, but that it "has to be taken". Sorry for the misunderstanding. I'm not sure sure why it's needed. In any case it was mostly discussed along the lines of "I never said it'd be a social tax" with an exceprt from previous speeches, including 'I won't raise the VAT" and "social tax".
While the Income Tax could be modified for greater fairness I don't think going back to pre-socialist tax days is really what Sarkozy should be shooting for.

Anonymous said...

Today's report on Sarkozy trying to cheer his congressmen - everything depends not on himself, but on them. What's a bad attitude? not a party rebellion, just a député who tries to pass an amendment to a law the government wants to pass...

"Tout va se jouer sur l'attitude de la majorité", a souligné Nicolas Sarkozy. "Si on recommence le concours Lépine du parlementaire qui a des convictions, qui propose des amendements, la lisibilité du travail de la majorité sera réduite à néant", a-t-il ajouté, en référence au débat qui va s'ouvrir le 13 février à l'Assemblée nationale sur les mesures annoncées dimanche, dont la hausse de la TVA.

Why he thinks this tax hike will help him is beyond me, I haven't heard a single positive thing about it. At best I heard "it won't really help but it won't hurt" from a small business owners, echoed by a few others on the right.
Myos