Monday, July 7, 2008

Why Did He Say That?

"Now, when there is a strike, nobody notices." Why did he say that? It was an unnecessary provocation, and the unions have been duly provoked. It was not the sort of thing he said back when he was still popular, still riding the crest of the post-electoral wave, and still claiming that he aspired to be "the president of all the French." Certainly it's not the minimum service law that tamed labor, so he can't claim that as his government's great achievement. Certainly it's not the relatively painless reform of the special retirement regimes. The strikes were noticed, but they didn't last long, because everyone agreed, whether publicly or not, that some reform was necessary. But now, just as negotiations with the unions are really getting sticky, with even the generally amenable CFDT expressing serious problems with the attack on the 35-hour week, Sarkozy decides to come on like gangbusters--or, rather, union busters. "Nobody notices." This claim to have emasculated the unions is the sort of stupid remark that the president may yet regret--and I use the word "stupid" advisedly, because the stupidity is similar to that remarked upon by Patrick de Carolis in regard to Sarkozy's comments on public vs. private television. Both remarks were stupid because they were assertions contrary to plain and ascertainable fact.

So why does he say these things? Is he in the process of taking leave of reality, as George Bush has done? Has he convinced himself that it is enough to say that things have changed for people to believe that "Sarkozy's reforms have succeeded"?

ADDENDUM: On the other hand, perhaps he was simply feeling flush, given the currently favorable rapport des forces.


Anonymous said...

well put, on se le demande!

TexExile said...

Well, it was news to me. It's not but about a week since a strike called "sans preavis" shut down RER line A completely (no trains at all for the day, as best I could tell) and buggered up much else.

Since there was no warning at all, the crowding on the trains (SNCF lines, of course -- not the RER) was the worst I've seen in over five years, because people had not made alternative plans as they would normally have done. (Drivers got a break, though, since there was not so much additional traffic on the roads.) Getting to work proved a real Odyssey.

So much for minimum service. I couldn't help thinking at the time that this sort of unannounced stoppage (in this case, in response to "une aggression conducteur" at one of the stations on the line the day before) might well be the shape of things to come. Trust me, Mr President, it was noticeable...

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