During the past twelve years, three of Jacques Chirac's Prime ministers -Alain Juppé, Jean-Pierre Raffarin and Dominique de Villepin- decided to reform but backed out in the face of protests. The election of a new President, who claimed that he was the candidate for change, during the whole campaign, can thus appear as a turning-point. In July 2007, during the presidential campaign, Nicolas Sarkozy said « I'm neither Thatcher nor Reagan ». Yet in November 2007, the economist published an article entitled « Sarkozy's Thatcher moment ». It is therefore interesting to wonder if Nicolas Sarkozy can become France's Margaret Thatcher. In other words, with the arrival of N. Sarkozy, to what extent can the Thatcher-type reforms be applied in France, or adapted to France?
[...] Many parameters, such as cultural and historical differences between Great-Britain and France, indicate that it will be quite difficult to adapt the Thatcher-type reforms to France. First, the situations in Great-Britain in 1979 and in France in 2007 are very different. Indeed, the intensity of the crisis was much higher in Britain than it is in France. France is not comparable with the very economically sick Great Britain of the 1970's where there was an obligation to reform. In France, with the Euro, there are alternatives to shock treatment. [...]
[...] In 1979, half of the British workers belonged to a union whereas only of the French are organized today. M. Thatcher wanted to reduce the power of the unions. On the contrary, the modernisation of social relations in France requires the strengthening of unions, which are too weak the government is aware of that. Second, N. Sarkozy's conception of politics also differs from M. Thatcher's, what is understandable with such differences between the contexts in the two countries. There are ideological differences. [...]
[...] The power of the French street is therefore a legend, what will make difficult to adapt Thatcher-type reforms to France. In sum, Thatcher-type reforms could be adapted to France, with certain limits. Perhaps N. Sarkozy will manage to reform France as M. Thatcher did in Great-Britain but he will have to overcome several obstacles. Besides, N. Sarkozy's determination is not enough; to reform France, he will need some luck, like M. Thatcher. However, maybe the main concern is not to know how we can adapt Thatcher-type reforms to France, but to know if it [...]
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