Tuesday, April 04, 2006

The French Political Land of Confusion....

If you do not understand the latest developments of the current French social political crisis, don’t worry. Nobody does. Not even the French.

In a few words, French President Chirac signed the controversial employment contract (‘First Employment Contract’ or Contrat Première Embauche’, CPE) into law but added that he had demanded two changes to the law. In affect he asked that the law should not be applied until those changes are actually voted (with a n ew law) by Parliament.

In other words, Chirac signed a text into law but asked for people NOT to use it. If you think that is not very coherent, you are not the only one. The real reason for Chirac’s incoherent move is politics - he did not want to disown his protégé, prime minister Dominique de Villepin. As a result PM’s rival Sarkozy (who is the same government) is, as the leader of the Conservative party now in charge of negotiations for a new law.

As Libération puts it (see BBC press review)

"This will not inspire greater respect for the law among the French, if the person whose role is, above all, to see to it that the law is applied is the first to scorn it."

Not only does it undermine the rule of law, but it makes a joke of the notion of French governance.

France being what it is, you end up with very aberrant but funny consequence:
Jean-Louis Borloo, the "Minister for Social Cohesion", has admitted that his department has sent a letter to 220 branches advising them not to sign the CPE. Borloo's ministry did also not approve the printing of the first CPE contracts. That may very well be illegal in a strict sense of the word. Although this has become a land of confusion, it looks like contracts can always be made now that the law has been enacted. There have reports of an unidentified employer who signed such a contract today, but it is unlikely that many firms will decide to sign a contract whose future is uncertain.

In the meantime, today is the 5th day of protest against the law. It seems to be as popular with students but less so with workers. We'll know more by this evening....
The law is dead, long live the law!


At 08:19, Anonymous Abie said...

I had the same feeling about the fact that barring (or even discouraging) people to sign contracts defined by the law would be illegal.

It turns out it really is the case :
Borloo hors-la-loi? article read in Libération.

At 08:21, Blogger Joker & Thief said...

Thnaks for the tip.


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