Tuesday, March 24, 2009


The government is prepared to invest 10 million euros in Heuliez, a manufacturer of automobile components in Poitou-Charentes. Ségolène Royal's region is prepared to invest an additional 7 million. Royal roiled the waters a bit by suggesting that Heuliez was deliberately being driven into bankruptcy by the government because it is in competition with a subsidiary of the Bolloré group, Vincent Bolloré being the financier who lent the president his yacht shortly after the election. Bolloré denies that this is the case and says that his group stands to profit if Heuliez survives, because it supplies batteries for an electric car prototype that Heuliez is developing.

In any case, what we see here is an attempt to bail out a failing manufacturer with state funds. Who will be next in line?

On Sarkozy's Use of French

Here. Charles Bremner writes:

Defending an income tax ceiling last week, he told factory workers: "Si y en a que ça les démange d'augmenter les impôts..." A London equivalent might be be "If there's anyone 'ere that's itching to put up taxes..." [I'm sure people can suggest better versions]

Sarkozy's verbal failings are compared to George Bush's and characterized as a means of reaching the "common man." It's interesting that Bush's pratfalls used to drive me up the wall, but Sarko's don't. In part, of course, it's the difference between hearing one's mother tongue mangled and hearing colloquialisms in a learned language. But maybe it's deeper than that. A commenter yesterday likened the visceral dislike of Sarkozy that is so widespread in France with the Bush phobia that was until recently so rampant in the US, and suggested that one of the reasons Obama won was that he never ceded to the facility of Bush-bashing. I think there's something to this observation.

Sarko Can't Get a Break

China has rejected the French proposal of a private meeting between heads of state on the margins of the upcoming G20 summit. The US had rebuffed a similar proposal previously. With no promise of domestic improvement, Sarkozy may well covet a splashy international occasion to demonstrate his indispensability, but the dice haven't been rolling his way since he stepped down from the EU presidency.