Thursday, August 25, 2005

France facing "period of social unrest"

EU: Paul Krugman's idiotic France loving is looking worse and worse.

France could face its worst period of social unrest for a decade, analysts and commentators warned, as Dominique de Villepin's centre-right government returns today from its summer break. With petrol prices soaring, economic growth hesitant, trade unions furious, public confidence in the country and its political leaders at rock-bottom and a string of unpopular reforms still lying ahead, conditions are ripe for what one analyst, Gerard Mermet, called "genuine social upheaval". ....The first mass day of action will be in late September and will mobilise more than 1 million French workers, he said - although the first teachers' strike is scheduled for next week. Such protests can take dramatic turns in France: a massive public campaign against some relatively mild economic reforms in 1995 brought the country to a standstill for several weeks, leading ultimately to the downfall of the previous centre-right government headed by the then prime minister, Alain Juppé. In addition to the jobs problem, Mr de Villepin - who marks 100 days in office on September 8, by which time, he has pledged, he will have "restored the nation's confidence" - also faces widespread discontent at falling spending power (exacerbated by rising fuel prices), as well as stiff opposition to planned education, civil service and health reforms. With economic growth standing at just 0.1% in the second quarter, and Paris under strong pressure from Brussels to bring its deficit back to below the EU's 3% ceiling, the prime minister will also find it almost impossible to finalise a state budget for 2006 without big cuts in public spending - each provoking further unrest. Le Monde warned in a recent editorial that the "rentrée" will Mr de Villepin's "first real test". The sociologist Mr Mermet was more pessimistic: "Things will radicalise," he said. "There is a real risk of explosion: we are in a pre-revolutionary situation."
Via Bloomberg:
Aug. 24 (Bloomberg) -- Camille Grimault-Queret was fired in June as director of the 18-hole golf course in Saint-Germain-les- Corbeil, south of Paris. She wants to find more work -- as long as it's the perfect job. Grimault-Queret, 31, can afford to be picky. She will collect a monthly unemployment check worth 57 percent of her former salary for as long as 23 months, and says she won't look at anything that isn't ``attractive'' until at least November. France's generous jobless benefits, about three times those of the U.S. and the U.K., help explain the country's 10.1 percent unemployment rate -- double the rates in those countries. The benefits are among a set of labor policies that may pose the biggest obstacle to President Jacques Chirac's efforts to rekindle the economy and restore his tattered popularity. Chirac's government has proposed to cut benefits for people who turn down jobs and to offer a 1,000-euro ($1,223) bonus to those who return to work within a year. The measures don't go far enough, says Eric Chaney, Morgan Stanley's chief European economist in London. ``As long as policy makers do not question the French social model, France will continue to suffer from high unemployment,'' he says.
This is the problem in a nutshell. France has a social system that cannot survive in today's world. There is nothing built to make it adaptable to changing economic/social factors. The population refuses to change and the government does not have the ability or confidence in itself to make the necessary changes. The only way this is going to end is the system collapses and out of that wreckage something better is built.

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