Sunday, July 3, 2011

Hollande and the Unions

François Hollande is said to be the candidate with the closest union ties:

François Hollande, qui présidait le Club Témoin de Jacques Delors entre 1993 et 1997, est le candidat à la primaire socialiste le plus ouvert à l'égard du monde syndical. Dans l'équipe qui l'entoure, se trouvent aussi bien Jacky Bontems, numéro deux de la CFDT au temps de Nicole Notat, que des syndicalistes de l'UNSA ou de la CGT. Tous ont poussé l'ancien premier secrétaire à marquer sa différence et à défendre une conception rénovée de la démocratie sociale.
At the same time, he is in favor (as I have noted previously) of what might be called a "neoliberal redefinition" of social democracy: less state oversight of the economy, greater devolution of powers to the social partners to negotiate deals on hours, retirement, benefits, and wages on a sectoral or firm-by-firm basis. Aubry takes a more statist view. Hervé Novelli, speaking for the UMP, poured salt into this open wound, suggesting that the PS will not be able to suture it. Meanwhile, the unions have been quiet, as far as I know, perhaps because this is an issue on which leadership and rank-and-file do not agree. Decentralized negotiations give union leaders a much greater role but would likely weaken worker influence over the broader outlines of social policy.

It will be interesting to see if this tension becomes salient in the Socialist primary.

UPDATE: For a dissenting view, see Bernard Girard.

Americans in Paris

David Bell with a characteristically deft review of David McCullough's The Greater Journey: Americans in Paris.