Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Déjà vu

Nicolas Sarkozy was on TV last night berating the absence of government in France, the lack of "authority," the absence of "order." He was referring to the chaos caused by refinery blockages, shortages of gasoline at the pump, and long lines at service stations. "Where is the government?" he asked.

Where is M. Sarkozy's memory, I ask in turn. When he pushed through retirement reform in 2010, the CGT responded as it is responding now, by blocking refineries and impeding fuel deliveries. It took a while, but eventually Sarkozy decided to get tough, as Valls is about to do.

Parallèlement, M. Martinez politise son discours. Alors que la gauche de la gauche est en miettes, il se place dans la posture de chef de l’opposition de gauche à François Hollande et Manuel Valls et anticipe une défaite de la gauche en 2017. « Hollande et Valls utilisent les mêmes méthodes que Nicolas Sarkozy en 2010, a-t-il déclaré samedi à Wizernes (Pas-de-Calais). Face à la lutte des salariés, ils envoient les forces de l’ordre pour casser les grèves. »
M. Sarkozy may have forgotten the episode, but I'm sure Front National voters remember and take it as one more demonstration that the UMPS is one barely differentiated party of grandes gueules. despite the metamorphosis of the UMP into LR.


christopher delogu said...

What's the difference between Mitch McConnell and the presidents of the CGT and the FO? MM (and his loyalists) block the initiatives of a president they did not vote for; the presidents of France's labor unions block those of a president they did vote for. Either way the "bad loser syndrome" hurts both countries and democracy in general.

The "passage en force" through the AN via the French version of America's nuclear option, le 49.3, has given rise, as I feared, to hardened actions that are likely to continue up to and through the consideration of the labor reform bill by the Senat in June.

Today I wanted to take a regional train Tlse-Foix to ride my bike in the Pyrenees a bit. Not possible. Strike. Next week I have to resume my commute between Toulouse and Lyon and I have no idea I'll get there or get back. My return trip last week had to be rearranged at the cost of two cancelled appointments and unneeded stress and fatigue. I can also report that foreign student enrollment in French cultural and language programs such as "Lyon Bleu" is way down (like 80% down) and the cause most often cited is social unrest such as strikes (not fear of terrorist attacks).

France and its love affair with "la rue" in the month of May is really getting old. And in late June there will be the referendum about the Notre Dame des Landes airport proposal... Social unrest in France may actually go far beyond May this year. I won't be surprised if Pamela Druckerman (like Adam Gopnik before her) decides to pull up stakes and "bring up Bebe" back in the U.S. starting in the fall.

FrédéricLN said...

Du nouveau : An American in Paris! He would be the man who broke the police car with a metal pole. http://www.lemonde.fr/police-justice/article/2016/05/29/voiture-de-police-incendiee-un-americain-de-27-ans-mis-en-examen-et-ecroue_4928605_1653578.html

bernard said...

@Frederic LN
Which makes the point, yet again, that it is wise to ban guns. Think of the damage he might have done if he'd stayed in the USA...

Mitch Guthman said...

I have had a different, but somewhat related, point in the back of my mind ever since I read Art’s post. I understand the political logic of what Sarkozy did. There was certainly an advantage to be gained by going after the unions and no real downside for him since these people were basically his sworn enemies and the bosses were people he wanted very much to cultivate.

But Hollande is attacking the unions who are the base of his party on behalf of the party’s enemies who would not piss on him if he was on fire. Politically speaking, that’s totally insane! The American style triangulation that I think is being attempted by Hollande works only because one of the two parties is, to put it colloquially, batshit crazy. Consequently, the Democrats could shift to the right (as Hollande is trying to do) without risking much of their support since even a center right Democratic Party would still be the overwhelmingly lesser evil.

The political environment in France is quite different. Sarkozy is unpalatable but far from horrible in the way in which the GOP in America is horrible. Basically, the people of the left in France can safely sit on their hands without worrying that Sarkozy or especially Juppé or Bayrou is going to burn down the country.

Hollande needs the continued support of the unions. He needs the continued support of the left and center-left. If Hollande can’t add new centrists and, very importantly, also bring the majority of his party with him to his new, business-friendly, pro-austerity, center-right promised land, he just has no hope of surviving to the second round. Hollande might want to think about an enduring piece of political wisdom offered by, I believe, Mitch McConnell that if you insult call a woman and call her ugly, you can’t expect her to go to the prom with you.