Thursday, January 9, 2014

Judicial Error

The Conseil d'Etat, I'm afraid, has just played into the hands of Dieudonné by quashing the order to the administrative tribunal in Nantes to allow his show there to go on. This only lends credence to the claim of the comedian and his supporters that their voices are being suppressed. The pretext that the public order might be disturbed if Dieudonné is allowed to perform is foolish and pusillanimous, and the appearance that the separation of powers has been violated by government pressure on the Conseil d'Etat makes France look like a country in which governmental expediency will always trump the law when it comes to political speech. I think it's an unfortunate decision.

What this series of lamentable episodes--from Anelka to Dieudonné to the Conseil d'État--has revealed is that France is on the verge of another explosion of rage by people who feel they have no political voice. It's a pity that there is no civil rights movement worthy of the name and that no leader of stature has emerged to channel this anger into more productive channels. I shudder to think of what lies ahead.

The War of the Two Quais

The Quai d'Orsay has taken the initiative in flogging French exports, according to Le Monde, and has thus irritated the upstream Quai de Bercy. Hence the War of the Two Quais. But why not a Bridge over the River Quai instead (forgive me!)? Would it be too much to expect the two ministries to work together in the national interest?

The devil, I suppose, is in the details, and this is an area about which I don't have much detailed knowledge. But if I were an American businessman looking to do business in France, I might not even know the name of the Quai Bercy, but I would be able to find the phone number of the nearest consulate in my phone book. Hence it seems to me perfectly reasonable for Fabius to seek to gin up his ministry's capabilities on this front.