Posts Tagged ‘Economy’

On French television a couple of days ago Sarkozy declared France would not commit the same economic errors as Britain, saying:

 «Les Anglais ont fait le choix d’une relance par la consommation avec, notamment, une baisse de la TVA, dont on voit bien que ça n’a amené absolument aucun progrès.»

[ “The English chose to boost [the economy] through consumer spending by lowering VAT, which, we’ve seen, has led to absolutely no progress.”]

Downing Street responded in that most typical British fashion – it resorted to irony, telling reporters:

“The Elysee have been in contact this morning to assure us that these remarks were not meant as a critique of UK economic policy – which is nice.”

Less than a year ago on a state visit to England, the French premier had promised that an “entente formidable” would develop between the two countries.

It should be no surprise that this beautiful promise didn’t come to fruition. From William the Conqueror to more modern times when De Gaulle said non to Britain joining the ECC, the Anglo-French entente has always been something of a love-hate relationship.

That Sweet Enemy by Robert and Isabelle Tombs is a brilliant book documenting this relationship from the time of the Sun King to the present. I would definitely recommend it. It’s humorous, insightful and well worth the read. Although at nearly 800 pages, it is perhaps too long, so you might want to just dip in and out of chapters.

For something far less time-consuming, see the YouTube clip below. Before you do, I just want to say I absolument don’t agree with the politics behind the video but it is funny nonetheless.

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They’re at it again, les Français. Forget le football, we all know striking is France’s national sport and today saw a fine example of the game.

A staggering 2.5 million workers took to the streets to protest against Sarkozy’s handling of the economic crisis.

Unions are demanding that he do more to protect employment, public services and le pouvoir d’achat (the buying power of the average man).

Schools closed. Transport came to almost a complete halt with only 30% of trains running.

And yet despite all the disruption brought by this “jeudi noir” (as the French press are calling it), public opinion is behind the strikers.

According to a poll conducted for the weekly news magazine L’Express, 69% of the French public think their action is “justifié”. (Get hold of this pole here.)

People throughout France feel that President Bling, as Sarkozy is known for his love of Rolex watches, is not doing enough to help the ordinary man.

They sympathize with the strikers cry of “on ne veut pas payer pour les banquiers!” (We don’t want to pay for the bankers). They agree with FO union leader Jean-Claude Mailly’s characterisation of the French government as “irrésponsable”.

With the President not prepared to listen, things turned nasty. This evening, there are reports of youths throwing bottles and lighting fires on the streets of Paris. (See BBC.)

This isn’t your average strike, an average grève. This is revolt.

To find out more about the origins of this strike see this article in Le Monde. Or if you’re after an  explanation in English this article in Der Spiegel is good.

Le Nouvel Observateur has an hour by hour break down of the event and videos of the days events accross France.

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