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I saw that yesterday night and was about to put it in a comment. You're kinda stealing my thunder here.... :-)

So yes, in a timely fashion, the FT's regular columnist from France, Dominique Moïsi, publishes today a commentary which go along fairly similar lines:

it is undeniable that France is in a dual crisis of confidence that concerns its essence as well as its performance, a crisis that is part of but goes beyond the "European crisis". Britain is becoming a comparative mirror. On July 6, when Paris lost the 2012 Olympics to London, the disillusion was accompanied by a "what's wrong with us?" interrogation.


Mr Chirac by contrast is undeniably France's legal president, re-elected in 2002 with 82 per cent of the votes, but his legitimacy is questioned. His unpopularity is unparalleled in the Fifth Republic's history. His name is more associated with failed efforts and wrong decisions than with successful outcomes. And above all he has been for so long at the forefront of politics - he was prime minister 30 years ago - that his message no longer gets through. A once very young premier has become an old and lonely president, closer to King Lear than Henry V.


France suffers from a serious structural political crisis. To express it differently, a gap now exists between the quality of France's economic and political elites. Among the first, one encounters creativity, dynamism, enthusiasm and success. The "France that wins" is there. By contrast the incestuous relationship between the civil service and politicians, fostered by the dominance of the elite training school, the National School of Administration, has encouraged aloofness and technocratic bias within the political debate. The No vote in the EU constitutional treaty referendum was in part due to a growing divorce between society and the political class.


At a deeper level, France's problems stem from a combination of too much state and yet also too much personal selfishness. With a greater sense of collective solidarity - in a Nordic way - the French would not have to rely so much on the state in adjusting to new demographic and economic realities.


Mr Chirac has failed to reconcile the French with politics. It will be his successor's task to demonstrate that, even in France, it is not a "mission impossible". It starts with telling the truth to a country living well beyond its means.

I find it ironic that the now most frequent criticism made of France is that it is "living well beyond its means" when its problems stem precisely from the fact that it is being compared to two economies which are actually living beyond their means, the USA and the UK, whose growth makes them look comparatively dynamic and successful whereas they are largely splurging on debt.

But yes, like Moïsi writes (elsewhere in the article, France needs a President it can be proud of.

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes

by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Fri Aug 19th, 2005 at 03:34:48 AM EST
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