Wednesday, October 10, 2007


The Pacte Civil de Solidarité marks its 8th anniversary today. The number of PACS has increased from 22,000 in 2000 to 77,000 in 2006, and the average age has dropped from 37.6 to 31.5, close to the average age at marriage. Same-sex couples accounted for 42% of PACS in 1999 but for under 10% in 2006.

The fury with which the proposal was greeted in 1999 remains astonishing today. Although we like to think of the purportedly libertine French as more sane about sexual matters than the puritanical Amerloques, we find at least one UMP deputy opining that the PACS would lead to bestial couplings of man with dog, an opinion he shared with Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum.

Entente Cordiale

There are moments when one wonders if all the tinkering with economic policy--heures sup, bouclier fiscal, franchise médicale, VAT social, etc.--isn't just diversion from the real action on the economic front, which seems to revolve around energy. First, there were the negotiations with Libya about sources of uranium. Then there was the Suez-GDF merger. And now there is the entente cordiale that Sarkozy seems to be offering the Russians.

His meeting with Putin apparently went swimmingly--literally, the two leaders addressed each other as tu and discussed the possibility of stripping down and doing a few laps in the pool. And of course there was, we are told, some stern talk about term limits and human rights (Sarko met with a group of Russians on the issue). But on the subject of Gazprom, Sarko told Putin that, just as there is Russian money in EADS, a French national champion, so, too, are there French investors standing ready to put up capital for Russia's national champion, Gazprom.

Just as in the days of the czars, when French capital flowed into Russian railroads, now in the days of KGB capitalism, French capital is poised for action in the steppes. The details of these negotiations will merit the closest scrutiny.