Thursday, July 14, 2005

Is France ready for a new revolution?

Apologies but this is not related to blogs or online PR at all. It is Bastille Day and the Guardian is probing why France is in no mood to celebrate.

I could not help myself post this article as a reference for all my friends who don't understand why I, like many young French people left the country and why an increasing number of us has no intention to come back.


Anonymous said...

I am a French native and I moved to London eight years ago.

It's a very interesting article you got there! French want their cake and eat it and complain all the time. They’re just never happy… Or is it that they have been unhappy with their president for too long therefore they forgot what it was to be proud of their country. The only pride they have left is their food… and even that’s going slowly… Not everybody liked Mitterrand but at least he did some good things…

As far as I can remember, issues with increasing violence and crimes is probably what played a major role in the French deciding to change their government. I don’t think voting Chirac in the first place was a mark of discontentment in Mitterrand… It was more a ‘Let’s see what he can do’ type of scenario…. Then they realised he couldn’t do anything about it either. Le Pen was obviously not a solution so here we are with Chirac again.

8 years after I left France, I go back to my home town, Lyon, and look around:

35h a week? Are French lazy or do they recognise there is more to life than working 10h/day? In London people moan that they work too much and don‘t have time to spend all that money they’re making. In South of France, people seem pretty happy about their life-style of doing nothing and going nowhere but living by the beach.?! My colleagues at work tell me they find it hard in France because shops close at lunch time. But isn’t this the basis of French popular food style? Isn’t it because the French take the time to eat, they enjoy it and treat it as a social thing that their food is more ‘refined’?

French culture and great food? Well last time I went to France there was just so many Mc Donald’s and sandwich shops it made my English boyfriend laugh… Not to mention the size of the shelves for ready meals and sweets in Carrefour! But is this going against the ‘famous’ French food or is it just a wider range to choose from? I mean… it hasn’t been that long since the French started to sell imported wine in their supermarket? I grew up thinking only French people made wine… Is all this going to kill French Culture and Food or is it a mark of open mindedness?

Violence & crime: I have always wondered why when walking around London I can hear about 3 police sirens every 10 minutes but when going back to Lyon, it’s hard to find a policeman even when looking for one. So where is the French police hiding...? Is there a huge amount of crime in London, is the police extremely efficient, or are they trying to impress us like in American movies?

Euro? Did the French really know what it meant to change to Euro? Middle class French people can’t afford to live the same lifestyle they were used to because prices have massively increased. From what I’ve seen, so far the Euro has made the gap bigger between the rich and the poor and even though it’s supposed to economically benefit the country, on a social level, its’ not all that.

Olympic: Well. We lost. Is it Chirac’s fault or just bad luck?

So have the French learnt their lesson? I’m confident they have. Also all the non-sense we heard Chirac say in the past few weeks was as much of a chock to French people as it was for the English I think. I hope and I believe the French will make the right choice at the next elections. Do you?

Joël Céré said...

Hey, I left France 8 years ago too :-) I have always been pretty liberal economically speaking so my views, even when in France didn't fit with the majority.

What always upset me is that living in France is like living in a bubble, a deflating one. Our perception of the outside world is so distorted. We love to give lessons to everyone but we never recognise our mistakes. Arrogance and denial are really our downfall. It is only recently that the country is going through its identity crisis and that the real question is being asked: is the French social/economic model working? Here the answer is clearly no. It hasn't been working for a few decades. (Unemployment for under 25 is 25%, not 10%, and I won't talk about the French administration, the 35 hours week, the tax levy, the crime rate or our foreign policy...)

Everyone wants change and reform, but we heard that for the last 20 years. As soon as a government tries to push any sort of reform whatsoever, the unions take it to the street and the government backs off. So yes, the French are asking themselves more questions, but I am not sure they are ready for the answers yet. They know that they are leaving on borrowed time and they would rather pass the bucket to the next generation.

The French could make the right choice at the election (so many read between the lines here :-) but whether a new government can actually push the reforms needed to prevent the country's decline accelerating, I doubt so.