Saturday, May 18, 2013

Marine Le Pen Breaks Her Back

Marine Le Pen broke her sacrum (base of the spinal column) when she fell into her  own empty swimming pool. She says it was an accident. ... One awaits further details of this story with some considerable interest.

Book Attacks French Elite

Peter Gumbel, a British writer who teaches in Paris, has launched an all-out assault on France's elite:
In the name of “meritocracy” and “equality”, he says, France has built a system for selecting and formatting its political, administrative and business leaders which makes “Eton and Oxbridge” or the “Ivy League” look like a utopian experiment in social levelling. The “Grandes Écoles” – elite colleges, devised by Napoleon two centuries ago and re-invented after the Second World War – have become a machine for perpetuating a brilliant but blinkered, often arrogant and frequently incompetent ruling freemasonry.
“It’s a system that is able to produce a tiny number of brilliant and charming men and women who constitute the ruling class. Whether they are competent as leaders is another matter,” Gumbel writes . “The entire selection process leaves the vast majority of the population frustrated, de-motivated or feeling discarded.” In a sense, Mr Gumbel is saying nothing new. For decades, the French themselves have grumbled (as only the French can) about the pernicious stranglehold on government and big business of the products of the Grandes Écoles and especially the so-called “énarques”.

Movement on Europe?

Jean Quatremer reports that Angela Merkel is prepared to make significant changes in Europe's governance structures and treaties. François Hollande has given signs of thinking along similar lines. Both leaders are said to have been shocked by the clumsy handling of the Cypriot crisis at the European level.

I would be astonished, however, to see any movement on this front before the German elections, where Merkel now has to deal with unexpected problems, including a scandal in the leadership of the CSU, coalition partner of her CDU. Quatremer is no doubt reporting leaks from technical advisors in both governments. The political challenges to be overcome are enormous, and will remain so even after the German elections. Still, it is reassuring to think that there is movement on the issues of economic governance, banking reform, and treaty revision, all of which are necessary to preserve the euro.