Friday, March 6, 2009

Sarko Punts on Balladur Reforms

The Balladur commission submitted its report (which you can find here, summary here), and Sarko promptly punted it to Fillon, who's supposed to report back some day about progress in "building a consensus," that is, cooling the hot tempers that flared as the report's contents were leaked. Sarko attributes it all to the "conservatism" of local pols, and no doubt there's a lot of it, but one of the peculiarities of the French political structure is the way in which national power is built on local baronies. In addition, the Socialist lock on most big cities and regions is the major check on presidential power in a period when the president's party has an absolute majority in the National Assembly. Tampering with the bottom of the pyramid thus threatens the balance of power at the top, and nobody knows where such things, once begun, will end. So the inefficiencies remain, despite the opportunity offered by the crisis to get something done. One has the impression that this reform was one of those ideas that work well in a campaign but are hard to translate into practical results.

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