Monday, May 07, 2007

"Poll-ez" Vous, Francaise?

There's an interesting dynamic coming out of the French election yesterday, one that bears a bit of analysis. First, it's pretty clear that France has become as polarized a nation as the United States, and possibly even more so:
PARIS (Reuters) - Hundreds of people were arrested in France overnight in clashes between police and protesters who torched cars following conservative Nicolas Sarkozy's victory in Sunday's presidential election, police said.

Official figures released early on Monday said demonstrators set fire to 367 cars and injured 28 policemen across France, and 270 people were arrested in the violent protests against the tough-talking former interior minister.

Reports and eyewitness accounts suggested the violence was worse than the official statistics indicated because they did not include other incidents such as petrol bomb attacks on buses near Paris or smashed up shop fronts in large cities.
Sarkozy is widely seen to be a fairly conservative French politician, which has American conservatives crowing (I guess they have to take comfort wherever they can these days), and for France, I guess he is conservative, but I'd gladly trade some of the problems he's looking to fix for some of what laughingly gets referred to as labor issues here.

The French work week is 35 hours. Overtime is heavily taxed at both the corporate and personal level, discouraging folks from working longer and encouraging more employment. Sarkozy aims to curb unemployment while eliminating the taxes on overtime.

Good luck with that. Then there's the unions to deal with. Many are pretty militant, most are anti-hardline, so Sarkozy will have strike after strike after strike to deal with if he tries to break the unions.

Meaning, effectively, he's about as "far right" in France as outgoing President Jacques Chirac. And we've seen over the past six years what "far right" means to Frenchmen.

American conservatives believe Sarkozy will be different because he has expressed a fondness for President Bush, but so did Angela Merkel of Germany, and all that came out of that was some silly photo-ops and a quick submersion of their relationship to lower echelon discussions. So let 'em "rah rah cheerlead" on this count: Bush will find a way to fuck it up, as well, possibly by making some inane comment about French fries...