Friday, January 30, 2009
The Man Who Had Too Many Ideas.....
Yesterday around 2,500,000 demonstrating people were in the streets of cities and towns across France. That works out to roughly 4% of the population and 76% were sympathetic to the strike. Crowd size in Paris alone is estimated at up to 300,000.
Now if this same percentage was ever achieved in the United States, that would make almost 13,000,000 people, but America, rest assured, you could never get that many people to agree to go out and demonstrate no matter what the reason.
In the cities near me, Brive la Gaillarde there were 10,000, 25,000 in Limoges and 8,000 in Perigueux.
The goverment was releasing numbers much, much lower but today, the numbers I am quoting are the ones being reported on all of the media.
This was the biggest demonstration that Paris has seen in 20 years and in many parts of France it was the biggest social protest since May 1968, when DeGaulles government was brought down in the streets.
Earlier this week, there was a vote to censure the Sarkozy Government which if it had succeeded, would have forced the dissolution of the UMP majority. It did fail, but it was a strong slap.
The protests are being referred in the foreign press as the result of French unease over the economic situation. That is the simple line. This was a message to a government that has beat the drum of constant "reform". Reform, unfortunately has become a code word for cutting funds to and removing social programs, destroying the educational system, disenfranchising the legal system, cutting radically and raising the fees of the socialized medical system, raising taxes and fees while rewarding coorporations and trying to denationalize much of the infrastructure. One of the most threatened groups is the trade unions.
There has been a long trail littered with broken promises to the French population.
Meanwhile, the government has been actively passing laws which are restricting the rights of everyone. There are quotas on deportations of illegal immigrants that have to be met resulting in many lines of simple common sense being crossed. This alone has caused actual human rights abuses being investigated by Amnesty International.
One of the last straws was 2 weeks ago when the President was visiting northern France to try to push his educational "reforms". He visited an school and outside, there was a massive demonstration by parents and teachers which was messily broken up by the police and garnered enough publicity to make national news in a big way.
Sarkozy, in a fury, fired the Prefect of the Departement and the chief of police for allowing this embarrassment.
The government has hired a PR firm to feed news to the foreign press. It gives the impression that Sarkozy is a classy guy with an exmodel/pop singing wife, running an efficient government and makes sure there are photo ops constantly available to prove that he is actually "saving the world".
France sees the real picture.
A little man desparately reaching for total control, running from one failed idea to another in the attempt to hide the previous days debacle.