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Good start Dominique

Posted by Helen Friday, June 10, 2005

According to this morning’s International Herald Tribune, Dominique de Villepin, the beautifully coiffed, poetic new French Prime Minister has begun his administration by annoying his own party, the opposition and the trade unions. That covers most of them, I guess.

In his maiden speech Prime Minister de Villepin announced a €4.5 billion (c £3 billion) job creation plan. In response the Communist controlled CGT (talk about being stuck in the by-ways of history) has called for a mass demonstration on June 21.

In fact, there was a large demonstration in Paris yesterday, to protect manufacturing jobs. (What manufacturing jobs? Unemployment is running at over 10 per cent in that country and yet more factories are planning to relocate.)

In particular, the unions do not like a measure that would give small companies the right to hire people for a two-year probationary period with no guarantee of a permanent job afterwards. In many ways, one must agree, that is a silly measure, as anything that tries to lay down different rules for small and large companies is.

Still, the Solidaires union went a little too far, when it announced that

“M Villepin has just invented fast firing.”
Surely not. It has been with us for some time. In any case, two years is hardly fast.

Villepin’s own party and the opposition criticized his remarkably democratic plan to pass various job-creating legislation by diktat, by-passing the Assembly. Then again, if the EU can pass regulations that by-pass all elected parliaments and assemblies, why can’t the French Prime Minister? Is that not what is meant by souverainitĂ©?

The Socialist Dominique Strauss-Kahn has dismissed the entire proposal:
“Nothing, but nothing, in what was presented yesterday will stimulate growth and demand. What we urgently need is not a succession of mini-measures but an analysis of the economic situation. And what we need is to relaunch growth.”
Will it work in theory? M Strauss-Kahn, noticeably, has not proposed anything specific either.

In fact, all these debates and discussions have been very short on specifics. Exactly, what can be done to stimulate the French economy? Does anyone have the answer?