Tuesday, September 18, 2012

A Critique of Sarkozy's Special Regimes Reform

Bernard Girard calls my attention to this interesting critique of Sarkozy's reform of the special regimes at the RATP and SNCF. There were reports at the time that key interest groups were bought off with special "side payments" that were not publicly discussed. New research and a report by the Cour des Comptes appear to confirm this. Worth reading.

Chérèque Will Quit Leadership of CFDT

François Chérèque, who has led the CFDT since 2002, will retire in November and almost certainly be replaced by Laurent Berger, age 43. Chérèque's leadership will be remembered for his support of Fillon's retirement reform in 2002, a position he took without consultation with his members, leading to an eruption of internal and external opposition. But he survived and has reigned more or less tranquilly since then, to the point where his handpicked successor will undoubtedly be approved to replace him.

Hollande Denounces Religious Fanaticism

François Hollande made a strong speech today condemning the fanaticism that claims the mantle of Islam.

«L'honneur des civilisations islamiques est d'être plus anciennes, plus vivantes et plus tolérantes que certains de ceux qui prétendent abusivement aujourd'hui parler en leur nom. Il est l'exact contraire de l'obscurantisme qui anéantit les principes et détruit les valeurs de l'Islam en portant la violence et la haine.»
And he said this in the presence of wealthy Muslim donors.

NKM and Le Maire Are Out

Neither Nathalie Kosciusko-Morizet nor Bruno Le Maire has obtained enough parrainages to continue in the contest for the UMP leadership, which now becomes a duel between Copé and Fillon. Xavier Bertrand had previously announced that he was dropping out of the race in order to run for president, no matter who else might run, including Nicolas Sarkozy. I'm sure all of France and Navarre is delighted to hear the news and to know of Bertrand's resolute commitment to his restless ambition.

The Right to Vote for Foreigners

Seventy-five Socialist deputies have called on the president to make good on his promise to grant the right to vote in local elections to legal foreign residents of France. His interior minister, Manuel Valls, is hesitant to do so, however, because, as he euphemistically puts it, "there is no strong demand from the society" for such a move. Less delicately, he warns that any move in this direction would drive the right into the arms of the extreme right, possibly strengthening the enemy by weakening the deep internal division on the right that has done so much to empower the left. The reasoning is that, since foreigners would be expected to vote overwhelmingly for the left, even the non-xenophobic right would bitterly oppose the vote for reasons of self-interest rather than prejudice.

Yet a principle remains a principle. The 75 deputies are right. Hollande promised to grant the right to vote on principled grounds: legal residents of France should have a say in how they are governed. And if foreigners voted, all parties might be obliged to take greater account of their concerns and therefore take steps that could promote better integration.

Official Refuses to Marry Veiled Woman

An adjunct mayor in the Var refused to marry a couple because the bride was wearing a veil:

"Le foulard laissait voir son visage mais pas ses oreilles et la racine de ses cheveux", a-t-elle ajouté. Selon elle, l'adjointe au maire a estimé ne pas pouvoir vérifier l'identité de sa cliente. "On n'en fait pas une affaire d'Etat", a déclaré l'avocate, qui souligne que ses clients ne demandent pas de dommages-et-intérêts mais simplement "la célébration du mariage le plus vite possible". Elle avait déposé à la fin de la semaine dernière un référé d'heure à heure à l'encontre du préfet.
But what's unusual about a veiled bride? This was an "Islamic" veil, you say, not a good old-fashioned honest-to-God veil? Note that it wasn't a burka; the veil covered the bride's "ears" and "the roots of her hair." The official claimed that this made it impossible to verify her identity.