It is François Hollande’s demagoguery and weakness that put at risk normal political changeover and any last chance of putting our country back on its feet in a peaceful and democratic manner.
Chaos is happening right now. François Hollande may well chant his mantra of “Things are getting better”, but 66 million French people think that nothing is going right. The national crisis is gathering speed and changing: economic breakdown continues, but it being eclipsed by soclal and political violence.
The El Khomri law which aimed to modernize the labor market has been gutted of its content. The text has simply laid out a new labyrinth for companies to negotiate by creating the compte personnel d’activité (a career file for each individual that shows acquired benefits, pensions, etc.). At the same time, a minority of activists are blocking the economy, compromising its hesitant recovery, vandalizing city centers and ruining the image of France in Europe and the rest of the world. At a time when the country is facing an unprecedented terrorist threat, the government is just not there. Public order is falling apart. The Republic is giving way to the law of those who are most violent. How can the government claim it is standing up to the Islamic State of Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi when it is giving in to Philippe Martinez’s trade union, the CGT.
Although the present economic situation is undergoing a precarious improvement, the French economy is taking a nose-dive. There are more and more bankruptcies, reducing the production base. Tourism is collapsing because of fear of bomb attacks and increasing disorder. Industry is breaking up – the latest manifestation being the fusion-delocalization of Technip to London, coming after the departure of Lafarge, Alcatel and Norbert Dentressangle, and the insolvency of Vallourec. More and more companies, wealthy taxpayers, entrepreneurs and talented people are leaving the country.
What is new is the disintegration of French society and its institutions. France is the European country most affected by radical Islamism; it has 2,000 people fighting in Syria and the jihad’s influence over a section of young people is growing. At the same time, there has been an explosion of desperation and violence from various sectors – farmers, workers and students. Tax increases, the rise of unemployment and the systematic targeting of families has ravaged the middle classes, opening the door wide for populism.
It has been François Hollande’s demagoguery and weakness that has killed his term of office stone dead, putting at risk normal political changeover and any last chance of putting our country back on its feet in a peaceful and democratic manner. The trial of strength that the CGT is engaged in with the government is also aimed at preempting 2017 (the presidential elections) by prohibiting any modernization. At the same time, the President is increasing vote-catching expenditure that his successor will have to maintain. Since the beginning of the year, more than five billion has been given to civil servants, teachers, young people, casual workers in the entertainment business and local councillors. The objective of limiting the deficit to 3% in 2017 has already been nullified. Worse still, commitments made for future financial years, as from 2017, total more than 10 billion euros a year. To this must be added the astronomical cost of recapitalizing public-owned transport and energy companies as well as government concessions made to the trades unions of the SNCF (railroads), EDF (electricity) and Air France.
In Tocqueville’s Recollections, the author paints a portrait of Louis-Philippe which could well be applied to François Hollande: “He was ordered in his behavior, simple in his habits, measured in his tastes; temperate in all he undertook if not in his desires, human without being sensitive, covetous and mild […] His conversation, which was long-winded, diffuse, original, commonplace, anecdotal and filled with trivia of all sorts, was as agreable as any of the pleasures of the intelligence when delicacy and high-mindedness are absent. He had a distinguished mind, but constrained and hindered by the limited dimensions of his soul. Informed, subtle, flexible and tenacious; oriented only toward what was useful, deeply disdainful of truth, and so blinded to virtue by his incredulity that not only did he not see the unchanging beauty of truth and honesty but did not understand that they could often be useful ; with a deep knowledge of men – but only of their vices ; as unbelieving in matters of religion as the 18th century and as sceptical in politics as the 19th century; without having any beliefs himself; having no faith in that of others; with an ambition that was only limited by prudence, was never quenched nor let loose, and which was kept close to the ground.” And this was in 1848!
(Column published in Le Figaro, 6th June 2016)