Thursday, April 06, 2006

France - a tale of two countries.

Even though this is a bit caricatured, this ABC report has a point

While angry students pounded drums and pleaded for protection, Prime Minister Dominique de Villepin sipped vintage champagne at a lunch with members of his government.

Critics say the incident last week illustrates a disconnect between France's decision-making elite coddled, refined and resting on the laurels of the country's past glory and the people they govern, especially jobless youths who are taking to the streets and face an uncertain future.

The divide between the ruling class and French reality has been widening for years.

Yet, I tend to think this has become almost universal in the West in the last few years. Look at the Bush administration and the American people! It just takes different forms in different countries.
But it is true that in France it has taken alarming proportions lately. From a more cynical perspective, I would say that the French government has not been near as good at selling their poltical agenda (i.e. spinning) as the Bush administration. To use a good French word, they've been amateurs! (Although, given the news today, the competition is tight).

The French protesters over the jobs law are as upset by how Chirac and his government have handled the crisis as by the legislation that sparked it.
As they have done with unpopular reforms over the past two decades, French leaders pushed this one through without explaining it first to the people it would affect.
Villepin strong-armed it through parliament. Protests mounted, and Chirac signed it anyway. He offered modifications based on critics' concerns but opponents called them too little, too late

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