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5/28/2005

Voting Non for the Wrong reasons

To French anti-constitution campaigners, proposals such as these represent exactly the Anglo-Saxon model of unfettered capitalism that they believe is enshrined in the new document and that France should reject. With unemployment running at more than 10 per cent - twice the rate in Britain - and a perception that the new accession countries in central and eastern Europe are creating fierce competition for investment and jobs, there is a desire in France to turn back the tide.
the observer
France is in the midst of a flight to delusion with the central theme being the retention of the policies which have lead to an official 10% unemployment rate and an unofficial rate, which includes people who have simply dropped out of the labour market altogether (including many young, semi-French, Muslims) closer to 15%. Rather than recognize that a nation which allows strikes but not lockouts and has some of the shortest working hours and longest holidays in the West may not be exactly competitive, the French are rejecting the idea of economic competition itself.
These fears are amplified by the fast-growing accession countries to the east. With their cheap workers and flat tax regimes tailored to attract investment, the former communist countries tend to look to the US for inspiration as much as to the 'social market' capitalist model of Germany and France. '[A "no"] would be seen as a vote against economic reforms and as a vote against enlargement,' says Holger Schmieding of Bank of America.
the observer
Demographics, labour practices, a tradition of relying on state intervention and a failure to comprehend just how quickly the world is changing is leaving France (and Germany) on the economic sidelines.

There are many reasons to reject the centralizing Euro consittution but preserving a dirigiste social market economy which long since ceased to create any significant wealth is not one of them. Naturally it is the one the French left is campaigning on and, more worryingly, winning on.