France refusing to face reality

September 9th, 2010 at 12:00 pm by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

A colossal turnout for nationwide protests against pension reform yesterday threatened President Nicolas Sarkozy with a long winter of discontent if he pushes ahead with plans to increase the French retirement age from 60 to 62.

Trade unions comfortably exceeded their target of mobilising two million people on the streets as a nationwide strike disrupted transport, schools, government offices and parts of the media.

In Paris, the demonstration was so large – an estimated 270,000 people, or twice the numbers of the last protest in June – that the march had to be split into two halves.

More than 100 marches across the country attracted 2.5 million people, according to union estimates.

They are complaining about 62, when Australia and other countries are moving to 67 or 68.

It is inevitable that in NZ, the age will increase from 65 also.

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Thought of the Day

September 25th, 2009 at 7:22 am by David Farrar

I might be wrong, but I suspect Helen Clark hated that her first meeting with Barack Obama was having John Key introduce her as his predecessor, after Obama goes out of his way to say hi to Key.

We sometimes forget what a great reputation our country has overseas as a place to live:

Mr Obama had a friend living in New Zealand who had raved about the country praising its golf courses, skiing and lifestyle for families.

If Obama does visit at some stage, he’ll be a lot more popular than he is back home. UMR released a poll yesterday on NZers views of world leaders. The net positive ratings were:

  1. Barack Obama +82% (88% favourable, 6% unfavourable)
  2. Kevin Rudd +45%
  3. Angela Merkel +15%
  4. Nicolas Sarkozy +2%
  5. Gordon Brown -1%
  6. Silvio Berlusconi -16%
  7. Vladimir Putin -19%
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France rejoins NATO

March 16th, 2009 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

Big ups to Nicolas Sarkozy who has announced that France will fully rejoin NATO ahead of the 60th anniversary of its creation next month.

Charles de Gaulle may be turning angrily in his grave in the village of Colombey-les-Deux-Eglises but his spiritual heir, Nicolas Sarkozy, shows no qualms or regret for his deed.

It was de Gaulle who, 43 years ago, slapped America by pulling France out of Nato’s military command, asserting that his country would follow its own strategy of deterrence.

And it was Sarkozy who, in a near-Oedipal act, overturned the time-honoured policy of his doctrinal father and national hero.

In doing so, Sarkozy is reshaping Franco-American ties in a way unimaginable a year ago and boosting his claim to being Europe’s big player with Washington, say analysts.

It is a brave bold move.

Last week Sarkozy declared: “A state alone, a solitary nation, is a nation without influence, and if we count for something, we have to know how to bind ourselves to allies and friendships.

“France wants peace. France wants freedom and France also knows who our friends are and who our enemies are. I’m not afraid to say it, our friends and allies are first and foremost the Western family.” De Gaulle’s move in 1966 enabled France to remain a political member of Nato and thus benefit from its pledge of mutual defence in the event of attack.

To be fair to Obama, it no doubt helps that he is now the President, rather than Bush. I can’t imagine this having been possible while Bush was President. But he credit goes to Sarkozy, and the challenge lies with Obama to capitalise on this extremely useful step.

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Politicians in Paris

July 2nd, 2008 at 11:25 am by David Farrar

Sadly for me, not all my time overseas was a holiday. In Paris I also attended an IDU meeting. The International Democrat Union is a grouping of centre-right parties from around the world – around 95 parties are now members.It was founded by Ronald Reagan, Margaret Thatcher, Helmet Kohl and Jacques Chirac.

I’ve been involved in the IDU and IYDU for a number of years. This meeting is the big one though – the party leader’s meeting which is held every three years. The last one was in Washington DC in 2005.

The French National Assembly where we met for the Party Leaders Plenary. There were representatives from 46 countries, including eight Prime Ministers and a further 24 Party Leaders. The Prime Ministers included France, Croatia, Denmark, Georgia and Iceland. Some of the Leaders included David Cameron (UK), Bosnia, Chile, Ecuador, Lithuania, Sri Lanka, Nicaragua, Norway, Peru and Portugal.

The Conference lasted for two days with Regional meetings on Wednesday morning, an IDU Executive meeting on Wednesday afternoon and the main plenary session on Thursday.

The lady speaking is an Opposition Leader from Venezuela. A growing number of attendees are from semi or fully autocratic countries such as Venezuela, Cuba and Belarus where their parties are banned back home. It is quite inspiring talking to them and realizing how much they risk to get what we take for granted.

John Howard (IDU Chairman) greeting the French Prime Minister – François Fillon. The French PM gave one of the best speeches I have heard – hard to believe it was from a French politician. He quoted economic heroes of the right and the merits of free trade and liberalism which is not socialism or conservatism. I am going to try and get a copy – it really was that good.

On the Wednesday Night we were taken out to the Elysee Palace to meet President Sarkozy. The bus even got a police escort who cleared traffic for us, and you can see us travelling on the wrong side of the road here. A lot of pedesterians were wondering who was on the bus to warrant such treatment and must have been very disappointed to see me on the front seat. Mind you there were also half a dozen Prime Ministers with us!

The attendees are entering the Palace. Quite unusually there were no security checks (despite us all having been told to bring our passports. We were just escorted from the bus straight into the Palace without even a metal detector.

I did get to meet President Sarkozy (who is even shorter than Winston!) and The Stig remarked to me that it was the first time meeting someone who actually has his finger on the bomb!

The photo above is a poor quality one (taken via cellphone) of Sarkozy and UK Conservative Leader David Cameron. Cameron was in attendance for the full two days, and is a very engaging personality. He is quite charismastic and a good public speaker, but also very engaging on a one on one level. You feel you are talking to a person, not just a politician.

Sarkozy was, well, very French. :-)

After a couple of hours of champagne and nibbles at the Palace, we were taken to the Senate for a reception dinner. Also a fine venue, to say the least. And the food was absolutely first class.

This was taken out the window of the Senate. What is really amazing is the photo was taken a bit after 10 pm. Paris has amazingly long days, staying light until after 11 pm. It was one of the many things I loved about the city.

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