Thursday, June 13, 2013

The Front National Could Win the EU Elections

Irony of ironies: the Front National, the most anti-European of French parties, is neck-and-neck with the UMP in polling for the EU elections:
Le parti de Marine Le Pen recueille 18 % des intentions de vote, juste à un point derrière l'UMP (19 %). Le Parti socialiste n'obtient que 15 % des intentions de vote, à égalité avec le Front de gauche.

Social Explosion Ahead?

Retirement reform has been--if I may use an American metaphor--"the third rail" of French political life since at least 1995. Many people who voted for the Socialist candidate in 2012 were probably under the illusion that he would roll back the legal retirement age to 60, although Hollande--or at any rate his advisors speaking on his behalf--never committed himself to any such thing. Nevertheless, the news that the required period of contributions for a full pension will probably be increased from the present 41.5 years to 43 or 44 and the legal age of retirement from 62 to 63 is already sending ripples through the Socialist Party and may well set off a conflagration when finally announced. Nothing has been done to prepare the restive electorate for this shock--unless of course you count the 20 years of public debate about the sustainability of the pension system. The trouble is that this reform is going to be proposed by the Left. When Sarkozy moved some distance in the same direction, the strikers could always tell themselves that the next time would be different. But now that the next time is turning out to be more of the same, frustration will very likely turn to rage. This could be the summer of France's discontent, and Hollande's recent improvement in approval polls will not likely survive, although he hasn't much room to fall on the downside.

MEDEF Will Have a New Boss

Pierre Gattaz, the CEO of a manufacturer of electronic connectors, will replace Laurence Parisot as the head of the employers' association MEDEF. He is the son of Yves Gattaz, who headed the CNPF (MEDEF's predecessor) in the 80s.