Article Review Name: Martin O Regan Student Number 108595062 GV 2005 French Politics

The Financial Times article is about pension reform in France. President Sarkozy is trying to push through a reform that would entail the retirement age being raised from 60 to 62. The article argues that Sakozy s government is afraid that the longer the bill is delayed the longer and more intense the strikes will be. The article points to the chaos that ensues because blockades on fuel depots airports and even canals. The French economy is suffering. President Sarkozy is facing obstruction in Parliament. The Senate is delaying the legislation by repeatedly putting it back by a day. But his center right party, usually in disagreement with each other, is firmly behind Sarkozy in his attempt to reform the French pensions regime. The article implies that President Sarkozy appears increasingly powerless and that he is now struggling to regain the appearance of being in control. The article points to the chaos that has engulfed France. The difficulties he faces in Parliament boaster this argument. The article points to Sarkozy s attempts to regain control. He used the Army to get fuel to where it is needed. It points also to the resolve that exists in his own party the UMP to reform pensions. Measures that are expected by bond markets and the European Union. The article also points the Trade Unions and the public mood. It argues that the unions are split between more radical elements that want to cause more disruption and moderate elements that fear that causing further disruption will alienate the public in general. Pension reform is an unpopular measure. Opinion polls show a large plurality for the strikers and renegotiating the pension deal. The legislation to reform the French pensions regime is being delayed by the Senate. These delaying tactics are believed by the President and his aids be worsening the transport crisis. To prove this point the article picks up a quote from a French magazine Valeurs Actuelles. The bill has been with the Senate for three weeks, when will it vote for it Sarkozy s chief of staff tells a journalist 1 The Executive is clearly growing inpatient with parliament. The article claims that opinion inside the Elysee hopes that school holidays will turn French people against the strikers. This is claimed but it is not proved. It is off record information that we cannot verify. The article proves that the Executive is impatient with Senate. The slow passage of the bill through the Senate opens an opportunity for the Trade unions to protest the measures under consideration the article claims. The article claims that the more moderate unions will not protest against a law passed by parliament. The article doesn t prove this point it is merely stated. Airports are blockaded cancelling some flights. The unions are seeking to seriously disrupt the economic life of the country. All these things are happening while the pension reforms was under consideration by the Senate. So we can assume that the prolonged debate helped to extend the strikes. The Unions have caused a large amount of disruption to ordinary people because many service stations are on depleted fuel reserves. The article claims that the

unions risk turning the public against them if this continues. This , the article claims, forms the main disagreement between the unions. The more moderate unions are afraid that further protests will cause disruption during the school mid term break that will turn public opinion against the unions. The article claims this but does not prove it. The unions may be afraid of annoying ordinary travelers but they their fears may be unfounded. The article points to survey data that shows that most people are behind their protests. The Unions can find solace in the opinion poll data The union leaders are urged by their militant members, the article claims, to continue protesting. The unions have a window of opportunity while the bill is before parliament but they are afraid to challenge legislation that has been democratically enacted by Parliament. The article implies that the Unions believe protests will frighten legislators into blocking the new legislation. The article empathises President Sarkozy s attempts to restore law and order. In the face of blocked fuel depots and airports President Sarkozy promised to restore order to French economic life. He is anxious to appear strong in the face union protests. His robust handling of the Unions proves his desi re to free up transport in the country. President Sarkozy s robust posture towards the Unions helps his image among his own supporters. The article quotes a sometime critic of the President, JeanFrancois Cope, to prove this point, who boasts about the cohesion of the governing party and the government . 2 For the center right this is a central plank of their reforms. It will help the public finances. It is a move away from French model that empathises state aid. It will make France more like Anglophone countries and other European countries. The article s reference to expectations of bond markets and European peers illustrates the pressures on France from external sources. By pushing through these reforms Sarkozy is satisfying his own supporters and foreign interests. The support he receives from his party puts him in a stronger position for the presidential election in 2012. But this causes problems for Sarkozy among French people in general. The article argues persuasively that there is popular opinion against the reforms. Sarkozy is in danger of appearing to be the cause of the problems in the eyes of electors. To back up this point the article quotes opinion polls. 67% said they were in favour of the protests. It goes on to show that ther e are majorities in favour of the renegotiation and against Sarkozy s firm treatment of the strikers. The article argues persuasively that the French Executive is afraid that Parliamentary deadlock will further encourage strikes. An interview given the chief of staff makes this frustration clear. The article paints a clear picture of the disruption caused by the Union strikes. The article illustrates that Sarkozy is struggling to regain control of situation It proves that the Elysee Palace is afraid that parliamentary delays will prolong Union agitation.

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The article is persuasive overall. The article relies on off the record information that the reader cannot verify. We must accept that the journalist s sources inside government are credible and are not telling lies. The article also makes judgments about the intentions of the trade unions that not demonstrated in the article. We must accept the writer s expertise on French trade unions. The article proves that the country is in chaos due to the strikes. It implies that President Sarkozy is struggling to restore order. Sarkozy s tough treatment of the strikers is juxtaposed with the continuing chaos in the country. The article is clear and easy to read. It is divided into parts discussing the senate situation, the chaos in the country the attitudes of the unions, the center right, and the public at large. Ultimately we must accept the writer analysis of opinion within the trade unions and the Elysee Palace. Because the proof he offers only partial.