November 5, 2007

IT ALL COMES DOWN TO A SIMPLE QUESTION...:

In November strikes, a direct test of the Sarkozy mettle (John Vinocur, November 5, 2007, IHT)

In comparison, the visit to Washington on Tuesday and Wednesday, placing a symbolic seal on Sarkozy's drive to return France and the United States to close cooperation (and accelerating French-American talks on how to stop Iran from getting nuclear weapons) look like a comfortable parenthesis before the nitty-gritty descends.

The dark gray and black of it: Rail workers go on strike here Nov. 13. Gas and electricity workers at the national public utilities join them the next day. Paris subway personnel will most likely go into the streets with them. On Nov. 20, it is the turn of civil servants, teachers and students, and perhaps postal workers. And on Nov. 29, employees of the French justice system are scheduled to demonstrate.

The strikes aren't necessarily epochal, being French rerun versions of the 1984-85 war between Margaret Thatcher and British coal miners.

Yet they are a direct, national challenge to Sarkozy.

They will test his capacity to hold fast to a reform program for a new, modern France. It's one that aims to turn the national ethos toward more work, initiative and flexibility, while reducing the dominance of a traditionally privileged and rigid public sector.

To the extent that Sarkozy's performance will affect both the world's view of his capabilities and France's disposition for change, the strikes' outcome could qualify everything else the president has undertaken:


...is he the Iron Lady or is he Newt?

Posted by Orrin Judd at November 5, 2007 8:01 AM
Comments

Walking out on "60 Minutes" puts him in his own class. The big question is will the French put up with the upheaval of mass strikes.

Posted by: erp at November 5, 2007 9:37 AM
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