Friday, May 22, 2009

Two Years

The blog marked its second birthday yesterday. It's grown a lot: about 50 people read the first posts, compared with about 800 hits a day now (and a daily average of more than 1,200 "views" via Feedburner). Ironically, the interest of French politics seems to me to have diminished. In May of 2007 major changes seemed imminent. A new president and a new generation had taken power; Sarkozy had made overtures to the opposition; and, like it or not, a large majority, over 70 percent, either endorsed or accepted the need for substantial changes in the French economic and social model.

Two years later, we have The Economist featuring a cover in which the French model, essentially unreformed, is depicted as the survivor in the world financial meltdown. Sarkozy has (more or less) enacted his reforms, but the changes seem more incremental than far-reaching. 70 percent approval has turned into 70 percent disapproval (though a recent bounce has reduced this to something closer to 60 percent). France's problems seem to transcend the powers of its government, so that the day-to-day political often seems strangely irrelevant to what's on people's minds. The Socialist Party, whose reconstruction I had expected to be one of the major stories of the past two years, remains pretty much where it was immediately after the defeat: rudderless, divided, and unheard.

Some days it seems almost pointless to write about French politics.

8 comments:

Anonymous said...

well, its good thing reality is stranger than fiction...

who would be more disastrous for their respective parties -
François Hollande as candidate for the Socialists in 2012, or
Dick Cheney as candidate for the Republicans in 2012?



Chris P.

Steven Rendall said...

Congratulations on your blog's second anniversary and its success. Reading French Politics has become part of my daily routine, and I hope you can find the time and energy to continue it for years to come.

Daniel said...

There aren't as many places as one would think to read about French politics on teh web if you're an American and even fewer places that write about such politics as well as you do, I hope you'll continue.

James Conran said...

Congrats Arthur and I too really hope you keep the blog going. I do however understand your ennui with French politics of late. I suppose the answer is to step back and try to explain what makes the stasis possible (though in a sense the global crisis is the obvious answer since). But blogging is perhaps a medium more oriented to the day-to-day ephemera of politics...

FrédéricLN said...

Congratulations indeed. Is there any fairer chronicle of French politics than this blog ? Unsure.

"Sarkozy has (more or less) enacted his reforms, but the changes seem more incremental than far-reaching."

Oh, I wonder if anybody in France (or elsewhere) would be able to define what "his reforms" were supposed to be. The one project that was most in his suporters' mind, on election day, according to polls, was "the creation of a Ministère of Immigration and National Identity" - not a far-reaching reform, as no public agent, as far as I know, is in charge of "national identity". This reform was announced on March 8, 2007, six weeks before the vote. Vote intentions for Nicolas Sarkozy stopped their fall around this day and did not change significantly afterwards.

Well, that's about politics. Regarding policies, I guess everything is still to be invented. The French society state-centered as well as libertarian principles are indeed quite safe one in times of financial business crises. They still need to be reinvented / mutated for our society to find her way in globalization.

French politics are just on their beginnings - that may be why this blog raises more and more interest, and may do so in the next future!

Gilbert said...

It's an extremely useful and interesting and well-written blog. Please keep it up. I find too that, since the apparent meltdown of the US-UK "Anglo-Saxon" model, people are looking, with curiosity, at the "French Model", and with more respect, even if that respect is, in some regards, uninformed. So a critical look, such as yours, is more useful than ever. Thanks. Have a strong coffee, a chocolate croissant, and continue!
Gilbert Reid, Toronto, Canada

Un contribuable heureux said...

FrédéricLN,

One reform that many can witness in these tax-declaration days, is on the income tax.

Not that I'm concerned by the "Bouclier fiscal", nor the the "Premiere tranche d'imposition", but I did buy a house last year. With the "credit d'impots" on renewable energy investments (first started before before Sarkozy) and on loan interests (this one is 100% Sarko), I'll be actually receiving money back from the government this year. And it does matter to me...

FrédéricLN said...

@ Un contribuable heureux : congratulations for your new home ! For sure, even if the worse of democracies, not all of us can loose all days.

But the tax credit you refer to is very costly for taxpayers (including myself) and is considered by researchers as having no significant impact on construction. If any impact on something, it may make prices raise a little bit, and the bubble inflate.

Am I still waiting for the first useful "reform" in Sarkozy mandate ? As a matter of fact, no. It seems that the "bonus-malus" on the prices on cars was a good choice. I'm waiting, rather, for the second useful "reform".