Skip to main content

A case of deja vu in France?

The food and wine is exemplary and the French display a flair in all manner of ways, but things aren't good in the country.   

"France’s Third Republic lasted 70 years, but it is most remembered for its disastrous performance between the 20th century’s two world wars when a succession of governments — no fewer than 34, to be exact — stubbornly refused to recognize a changing world.

Its failure to adjust, first to the Depression, then to German rearmament, not only highlighted the weakness of an entrenched, self-serving ruling class, but also created a void that, by the 1930s, was filled by extremists of left and right.

Historical parallels are always risky, but it is nonetheless alarming to hear echoes of the Third Republic in France today. Within Europe, France appears to have lost its place as an equal partner to Germany, a disturbing development since for over half a century the Franco-German entente served as the principal pillar of European stability.

But France’s real problems lie at home. And the principal one of these is fear of change. It is not a new fear. Previous governments backed off after proposed social and economic reforms brought massive street protests. President François Hollande, whose Socialist government took office 13 months ago, created his own headache by promising change without pain — or rather pain for the rich, but not for the massive public sector that is the principal obstacle to change.

The result so far has been a renewed recession, no letup in the steady rise in unemployment, an exodus of the wealthy and deepening disillusionment with the government.

At this stage of his five-year term, Hollande enjoys the lowest popularity of any French president since the Fifth Republic was founded by Charles de Gaulle in 1958. His gamble is that he can reverse the country’s economic decline in good time to contemplate reelection in 2017."

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Whatever democracy the Palestinians had is dying

Almost a desperate cry from a well-known, respected and sober moderate Palestinian.

Mustafa Barghouthi is secretary-general of the Palestinian National Initiative and a member of the Palestinian Legislative Council. He was a candidate for the Palestinian presidency in 2005.

He writes in a piece "The Slow Death of Palestinian Democracy" on FP:

"Palestinian municipal elections were supposed to be held last week. Instead, they were canceled. A statement released by the Palestinian Authority claimed the cancellation was "in order to pave the way for a successful end to the siege on Gaza and for continued efforts at unity" between Hamas, which governs the Gaza Strip, and the government in the West Bank.

The cancellation of this election was an unjustified, unlawful, and unacceptable act. It damages democratic rights and makes a mockery of the interests of the Palestinian people.

But this is far more than an internal Palestinian issue. The only lasting peace between Isr…

Big Brother alive and well in the USA in 2007

The so-called "war on terror" has shown itself up in a multitude of manifestations. The most dangerous thing has been governments using the "excuse" of the war to restrict certain civil liberties, allowing government agencies to pursue a variety of things that they would otherwise would not - and should not - be allowed to do and gathering, and retaining, a variety of information on its citizens.

The Washington Post reports on the latest incursions into civil liberties of all Americans:

"The U.S. government is collecting electronic records on the travel habits of millions of Americans who fly, drive or take cruises abroad, retaining data on the persons with whom they travel or plan to stay, the personal items they carry during their journeys, and even the books that travelers have carried, according to documents obtained by a group of civil liberties advocates and statements by government officials.

The personal travel records are meant to be stored for as lo…