Wednesday, April 12, 2006

alternative politique*

I'm not sure what to think about the riots in Paris right now over the CPE. But I can agree wholeheartedly with this manifesto:

Alternative France

April 11, 2006

PARIS -- For once, the French government understands the obvious link between the overregulation of labor and unemployment. But, once again, the French government is neither courageous nor convinced enough to make the necessary changes. The French "social system" has to be profoundly rethought, not timidly tweaked. Prime Minister Dominique de Villepin preferred a tiny, inefficient and discriminatory measure -- the much-criticized "first jobs contract," or CPE -- to a real reform of the whole system. After weeks of confusion, President Jacques Chirac yesterday chose his favorite way out: immobility.

Mr. de Villepin's proposal for the CPE sparked massive protests. For weeks, students and unions organized strikes and demonstrations all over France. The French people have watched a new kind of soap opera, starring Messrs. Chirac and de Villepin and Interior Minister Nicolas Sarkozy as they try to escape their self-inflicted "CPE-gate" scandal. The law was finally enacted April 1, but President Chirac asked employers not to use it. Then for an entire week Mr. de Villepin insisted that his proposal remained intact, even though it essentially was already dead. Meanwhile, Mr. Sarkozy desperately tried to protect his candidacy for next year's presidential elections by dancing around the issue. After another week of demonstrations, strikes and blockades, Mr. Chirac finally withdrew the bill.

Such a cynical political show will not put an end to the students' demonstrations and strikes. How could it? One might protest illegal blockades in high schools and universities, lament that old-fashioned unions and Trotskyist groups manipulate the youth, and regret that France remains incapable of reform. Yet the claim from the youth must be heard and taken into account. The recent demonstrations and subsequent violence, as well as the riots in the banlieues in November, express the same pain: French youth are in despair, and their despair is turning into rage.

Who could begrudge them such anger? What future is now offered to a 20-year-old French student? The state, facing bankruptcy, will force this youngster to fund his pensions as well as his parents', to pay overwhelming amounts for his monopolistic health insurance while reimbursements dramatically decrease, and to swallow the huge public debt that has been rung up by older generations. His studies have been decoupled from the needs of the job market and might never help him to find employment. Because his country lacks the courage to reform itself, it does not create jobs anymore and will drive him directly to long-term unemployment. It's a wonder the youth aren't even more upset.

The French political class seems unable to face up to this challenge. That is far from surprising. How could those who have driven France so close to collapse help her out now? And no matter how fervently the French hope for a leader sent from the gods to show us the right way, no so such leader exists -- or ever will.

Alternative Libérale dares to answer the French youth. Alternative Libérale is a young political party, as young as its leaders -- 27 and 24, respectively, in our cases. We don't worry about whether we should be called "liberal," "libertarian" or "free market." We aim only to create a free society. Our project is to transform our state so that it serves French citizens, not vice versa. We believe in freedom of choice in any area of human life, whether it's the economy, social issues or values. In all respects, we want to give the French their freedom back: freedom to choose the school where they want their children to be taught, freedom to negotiate their working conditions, freedom to choose their health insurance, freedom of speech on any issue. France is dying from its lack of freedom.

Our country needs to find ways beyond those usually shown by the conservative and socialist parties. Our party embodies a new kind of politics. More than 1,000 people have joined us since we were created less than a year ago. Local chapters have been set up in more than 50 cities. Our values are as strong as our determination is deep. We will hold firmly our message and proposals in favor of freedom and responsibility in the political arena. We will offer the French a new path, authentically classically liberal: Alternative Libérale.

Mr. Fillias is president, and Ms. Herold spokeswoman, of Alternative Libérale.

I wish the Liberal Alternative wasn't so besmirched in the USA. Perhaps France can shift away from the facile left-right descriptors of political movements...
*please excuse the total lack of accenture and other egreious linguistic crimes

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