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BBC: Rising star of French left breaks another party taboo

Ségolène Royal, the rising star of France's opposition Socialists, yesterday caused renewed turmoil on the left when she broke one of the party's taboos by criticising the country's mandatory 35-hour working week.

Following hard on the heels of her explosive comments last week calling for a tougher stance on law and order, Ms Royal accused the 35-hour week of eroding the rights of the country's weakest workers.

The call is the latest step in Ms Royal's attempt to build a defining platform for her bid for the Socialists' nomination for next year's presidential election by offering a break with traditional party ideology.

Writing on her campaign website, Desires for the Future, Ms Royal said the 35-hour week had resulted in a "spectacular easing" of France's labour law, which meant executives could enjoy days off while those lower down worked less sociable but more flexible hours. "The proportion of workers on flexible hours has gone from 10 to 40 per cent," she said, more than their counterparts in the US.

by Fran on Tue Jun 6th, 2006 at 12:30:25 AM EST
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I'd like to ask her if there's actual evidence to suggest this is the SOLE reason there are so many workers on flexible hours in France compared to the U.S. She is clearly suggesting the 40-hour week will solve all the problems?

Mikhail from SF
by Tsarrio (dj_tsar@yahoo.com) on Tue Jun 6th, 2006 at 01:16:48 AM EST
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I can't answer about the sole reason, but it's true the largest gain for employers in the 35-hour deal was increased flexibility in working hours -- within the day, the week, the year.

Otherwise, Royal seems to be stating the obvious : the weakest among employees suffer more than the strongest. Women in personal-service jobs get a rawer deal from hours flexibility than do big-company administrative staff, for example. Royal isn't precise about what should be done to rectify this (not a return to the 40-hour week, afaik).

It's mostly strategic communication. As ThatBritGuy said yesterday, she's doing a Hillary. Going out to the right to widen her base, counting on the left to follow, albeit grudgingly. I don't like it one little bit, but -- in France at least -- it's likely to be efficient. Royal is looking more and more like the inescapable centre-left (... an angel hovers as I wonder if I should have written "left" ;)) candidate for next year.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Tue Jun 6th, 2006 at 03:22:42 AM EST
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The funny thing is that she criticises the 35-hour week from the left, and gets praise for it from the business press - just like her comments about Tony Blair (which essentially said that he had a much more keynesian /traditional left policy of spending on education and healthcare) were seen, wrongly, as support for neo-liberalism.

  • on the one hand it is smart to get that kind of support from the "mainstream" elite opinionmakers

  • on the other hand, is this a way to "capture" her for the third way blather in public perceptions, which could sour quickly if she sticks to her lefty economics.


In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes
by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Tue Jun 6th, 2006 at 03:53:25 AM EST
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