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June 15, 2010

Gradually and suddenly

Christopher Caldwell considers the incroyable possibility the French may cut welfare. He begins with an anecdote.

Soubie was working for then-prime minister Alain Juppé in 1995 when the nation underwent weeks of disruptive and violent strikes against reforms of the welfare state. As France veered towards major unrest, Le Monde wrote,
M. Soubie and his colleagues asked the relevant ministers and business leaders which particular reform projects had lit the powder keg. To their great surprise, they discovered that no such projects existed. All it had taken was a phrase, a passing mention in a speech by M. Juppé about reforming the health service, to unleash one of the most spectacular clashes of the last 30 years.

This is why France’s welfare state has always been as unreformable as it is unsustainable.

Posted by Ghost of a flea at June 15, 2010 09:53 AM