Les Bleus Good News


Paul Jacobs
Paul Jacobs

Why France is very,very proud…but then there are politics

Le Bleus Magnifique
Le Bleus Magnifique

By Paul Jacobs, in Paris


You were good, but we were very, very good. Coming within 5 points of the All Blacks makes us very proud. If only we had controlled things better near the touch lines we might well have done an Irish on you. That will be for another time.

The other almost-as-important event was the election of the Republican Party candidate for next year’s presidential elections.

Unexpected results

Outsider François Fillon, 62 years and former prime minister in Nicolas Sarkozy’s government, took 67 per cent of

Francois Fillon
Francois Fillon

the vote in this Sunday’s play off against Alain Juppé, long time considered to be a shoo-in for the Republican Party’s candidate.

Fillon’s programme involves some quite strong measures. Just whether he can pull them off, in a country which takes to the streets when it is not happy with government plans, is yet to be seen.

Marine Le Pen
Marine Le Pen

Of course, this assumes that he beats Marine Le Pen, president of the far right Front National, yes that party that temporarily unites people of the Left and the Right when it comes to a voting crunch, as it is a case of “anyone but the Front” winning.

Le Pen is expected to be in the second and final round in next year’s elections. What about the Socialists? – well, forget them.

Raising the retirement age

Fillon intends raising the retirement age from 62 to 65 years by 2022. I can see the public servants marching in the streets already.

French protesters take to the streets in May over new labour laws
French protesters take to the streets last May over new labour laws

Other measures include harmonising the public sector and private sector retirement schemes – I can see the Métro is now blocked and people are having trouble getting to work – increasing the working week of public servants from 35 hours to 39 hours without necessarily raising their salaries – the trains are now out too and no one can get to work.

Cartoonist Florent Schmitt's view of a French civil servant hard at work
Cartoonist Florent Schmitt’s view of a French civil servant hard at work

This last measure comes with the other cruel measure hitting our overly-protected fonctionnaires – there could be 500 000 fewer of them within a few years.

If Fillon can pull this off he will be performing a miracle!

Civil servants in his sights too

To top it off, civil servants will no longer get sick pay from their first day of being ill. They will have to live a little like everyone else and wait a day longer before getting compensation, still 2 days short of what the private sector employees have.

Does this seem fair? Well, no it isn’t, and that is why so many young people would like to be public servants with jobs protected for life.

The 35-hour week will also cease for the private sector and employees and management will thrash out company by company the length of their working week and when overtime will click in, within the European legal maximum of 48 hours.

President Francois Hollande
President Francois Hollande

Meanwhile, incumbent  and unpopular President François Hollande has not yet announced whether he will or will not stand in the elections.

We expect to know very soon.