Arnon Grunberg



On the reforms from upstairs - Claire Gatinois and Ivanne Trippenbach in Le Monde:

‘Elisabeth Borne's armored car, filmed by a horde of motorcyclists, raced toward the Assemblée Nationale amid a barrage of flashing lights. On Thursday, March 16, the day marking her tenth month as prime minister, she sat in the back seat of her sedan, swept up in the whirlwind of the reform that would raise the French retirement age from 62 to 64. Everything accelerated during final discussions with President Emmanuel Macron, which changed her destiny: She is now the head of the government reforming the pension system using Article 49.3 of the French Constitution, allowing the bill to be forced through without a vote in the Assemblée Nationale. She could already hear the cries from Parliament, where people were calling for her resignation.’


‘Next to Borne in the ornamental Elysée Palace, Interior Minister Gérald Darmanin and Aurore Bergé, head of the Renaissance (Macron's party) group in the Assemblée, pleaded, in line with most of the majority, to proceed with the vote, even if it meant losing and plunging into the abyss of uncertainty. "Pure demagoguery," replied Economy Minister Bruno Le Maire and his colleague in charge of the budget, Gabriel Attal. "The resentment in the country is such that we can not take the risk of 49.3. It is much riskier for the future!" argued Bergé. Darmanin suggested dissolving the government in case of failure: "You have to take a vote. If we dissolve now, the RN [Rassemblement National, far right] progresses but does not win." "We are not playing three-cushion billiards," snapped back Macron, referring to a particularly challenging form of carom billiards.’


‘At the podium, the prime minister swallowed her pride, citing her predecessor Michel Rocard and his 28 uses of Article 49.3. If the MPs had voted according to their "conscience, (...) we wouldn't be here," she shouted, without hearing her own voice drowned out by the noise of the lawmakers from the left-wing Nouvelle Union Populaire Ecologique et Sociale. "Resign! Get out!" the far-right MPs retorted in fury, brushing her off with a wave of the hand. Below, Labor Minister Olivier Dussopt looked distraught, while Justice Minister Eric Dupond-Moretti squeezed his shoulder to comfort him. Le Maire, frowning, seemed to be thinking about the battle he felt had been lost from the beginning: The government had made the reform look shameful, he said.’


‘Is it blindness? Overconfidence? Within the government, some are alarmed by the backlash against 49.3. Didn't the government originally choose to use a financial bill in order to avoid using this option? "Better the natural way than the Caesarean section, but the 49.3 is not forceps. It is the pure and simple application of the Constitution," said Renaissance MP Eric Woerth.’


‘Unfortunately, the "Borne method," marred by deceptions and PR blunders, failed. In the end, this debacle is also Macron's fault. Elected on the promising slogan "with you," the president had envisioned a "new method" of government. "The French are tired of reforms that come from upstairs," he said in an interview with the newspaper Ouest-France in June 2022, before suffering the setback of a legislative election that left him with only a relative majority. Less than a year after his election, Macron is forcing his reform against the desires of the population, unions and Parliament. This confrontation was evident on Thursday evening in the vicinity of the Place de la Concorde, where, after eight days of peaceful protests by more than 1 million French people, the demonstration degenerated into clashes and fires.’

Read the article here.

I’m not a big fan of all those laments about technocrats and technocracy but if you read this article the idea that a politician should act as a decent plumber has been slightly discredited by all this stupidity.

This kind of politics is fanning the flames of unrest and populism, it’s the apres-nous-le-déluge-mentality. With you? Not really.

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