Letter from France: Thoughts on the new cabinet

Sam Brodier

Sam Brodier is 38 and has been teaching English for 14 years in France, outside Paris. He is of French-Italian descent, although he grew up in North-Eastern France, very close to Belgium, Luxembourg and Germany. He loves travelling abroad with his boyfriend. He is also currently trying to learn German as he has recently developed a passion for German gay life. Although a rather serious guy, he likes having fun too, and is certainly no angel,with an imagination often running riot...

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The new French government has been in office for over one month now. So far, French citizens have been rather cautious – to say the least – as to what to expect from newly-appointed Prime Minister Manuel Valls and the Cabinet. Aside from Mr Valls’ dogged determination and fiery personality, little has actually been implemented to make French people more optimistic about the future of the nation.

The latest austerity plan launched by the Government is nevertheless supposed to go in the right direction by showing positive signs of balancing out budget deficit but French people do not regard tax cuts or wages freezing as forerunning signs of economic recovery. Quite the opposite! To everyone’s dismay, the gap between the elected officials and the people has kept widening and while the country is at a loss, politicians have kept flouting people’s discontent.

It is therefore interesting to focus on the reasons for such a widening gap and for people’s growing distrust of politicians. The poltical machinery no longer suits the fast pace of the global economy and our officials seem to be dragged off their feet…

On the one hand, they are under constant pressure from the media that report on their every movement, intent or plan without even granting them any benefit of hindsight. Then, as prisoners of ‘supra forces’ such as the E.U, the IMF or even the World Bank, the officials’ least attempt at reforming the country is quickly undermined by criticisms on the other hand.

They are thus given hardly any amount of leeway to implement long-term policies. Everything has to be short-term, quick, almost instant so as to please the dissatisfied section of the population and assuage any potential protest movement.

Both political leaders and voters can be blamed for such attitudes. As a result, political leaders should develop more pedagogical skills with voters by making them understand that they ARE IN CHARGE of the welfare of the nation, however hard it may be or whatever sacrifices it may involve. As for voters, instead of expecting everything from the officials, they should get involved into party politics, trade unions or organisations a lot more by taking part in debates and by selecting their representatives at their own level instead of letting parties do this at a national centralised level.

It remains to be seen whether Manuel Valls’s Premiership will turn out to be productive but he should be praised on his determination and convictions not to let voters down. As any long-term effect requires a good deal of time, wouldn’t it be sensible to give Mr Valls some time before running his cabinet down?

Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

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