Destinations Magazine

The Nuclear Option

By Stizzard

NOBODY could accuse Emmanuel Macron of not trying. To persuade rebellious Socialists and centre-right opponents to back his liberalising reforms, the French economy minister spent 111 hours in parliament and 82 in committee. On February 15th (a Sunday) Mr Macron was in the lower house until 6am—defending a law that, among other things, loosens Sunday work rules. But it was not enough. On February 17th, even as deputies were preparing to vote, the government felt forced to ram the law through by decree, for fear of not winning a majority.

Left-wing rebels bleated; the right said François Hollande’s presidency was over. But the question is whether this episode reveals political weakness or executive force. The Macron law is meant to be the centrepiece of Mr Hollande’s reformist U-turn. Its fate will influence the willingness of the European Commission to let France breach its budget-deficit rules: that is due to be decided on February 27th.

Politicians both to the left and to the right of the Socialists lined up in a curious chorus to proclaim failure. The decree proved that the government’s “ultra-liberal” policies had no backing, growled André Chassaigne, the Left Front’s parliamentary leader. The centre-right UMP deplored an “end to reform”—even though its leader (and ex-president), Nicolas Sarkozy, had told the party to reject the law.


The Economist: Europe

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