Friday, July 6, 2007

Housing, Dreux, ... and Boutin


François Fillon went to Dreux yesterday to demonstrate his approval of a program run by the city to assist residents in purchasing apartments in buildings that were once subsidized public housing. He hopes to lift ownership levels in France, currently much lower than in neighboring countries, to the European mean of about 70 percent.

It's interesting that the Dreux projects also piloted another French fledgling, the Front National, to national prominence, as detailed in Françoise Gaspard's book Une petite ville en France (Gaspard was mayor of the city from 1977 to 1983, during the period of intense FN recruitment there). Le Pen and his local organizers capitalized on discontent among native occupants of HLMs as apartments began to fill with immigrants and children of immigrants who had been brought in to work in nearby auto plants. It would be interesting to know the racial composition of the group of current purchasers of former HLM units.

It's also worth noting that Fillon was accompanied on this highly publicized trip by Christine Boutin on the very day that the story of her remarks on Bush's possible complicity in 9/11 broke in the press. I rashly predicted that Sarkozy would be forced to fire her. Instead, Fillon seems to have pushed her onto the front lines. Puzzling. And unless I've missed it, the reaction to Boutin's Internet video has been muted. A few articles in the papers but no calls from her comrades or the opposition that she resign. In fact, the reaction has been a good deal more muted than the reaction to Patrick Devedjian's use of the word salope. I find this curious.

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