Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Baroud d'honneur?

An extraordinary meeting of the council of ministers has been called to decide whether or not to invoke Article 49-3 in order to force passage of the labor code reform known as the El Khomri Law. Prime Minister Valls, who does not want any further compromise on the law, had already called a halt to further votes on the 5,000 proposed amendments.

This impasse has been looming for some time. The proposed reform has become one of those symbols by which, rightly or wrongly, rationally or irrationally, people declare their political identities. The street demonstrations against the reform, coupled with the amorphous but clearly hostile Nuit debout protest, have converged to make this vote a test of the strength, or rather a proof of the weakness, of the Valls government and the Hollande presidency. It is likely to be a baroud d'honneur, because the consequences of forced passage are likely to be intensified protest and legislative paralysis for the remainder of Hollande's term. If not worse ...

And what will the government get from the patronat in return for this reform? Nothing. Yves Gattaz has already said that the law is hopelessly compromised. Once again France demonstrates that it is the "stalemate society," unable to move very far in any direction and content to fiddle while the populace fumes. Eppure se muove ... That is perhaps the most remarkable thing: that for all the moroseness and complaining, France isn't really that badly off, as we are frequently reminded by Paul Krugman and, less authoritatively, by François Hollande.