French people continue protests, underscoring EU’s democracy crisis
For over two centuries, France was seen as the only Western country that mattered. It might sound like a sweeping statement.
But the political history of the kings of Sweden, the Netherlands and England, and the bourgeois democracies of the United States, Italy and Switzerland shows they just did not cut it.
While speaking to people who have been protesting in France for months, they say it is not arrogance. You can’t blame them for knowing the historical record. They say they are fighting now not just to save their own crisis-hit country but they are fighting for all of Europe, and also for the whole world.
That’s why their current fight to get the already-enacted two-year hike to the pension age pulled back is so important: This is a major new test for our new era on the question of national sovereignty, which is a concept that was deemed irrelevant in the now-dead unipolar world.
The French people are now relying on tactics that worked pre-European Union, but will they work now? Can countries go their own way within the bloc?
France’s trade unions think so, but I would say they are making a promise they can’t keep, or they are living in the past, or they are on the cusp of revealing themselves to be actually powerless now.
They have decided to hark back to 2006 when protests successfully forced the government to revoke an unpopular law that had been passed into legislation.
Indeed, this is a last, desperate gambit to repeal the age hike, but the tactic has worked before.
In 2006, the offending law was one which made firing youth workers easier, and the pension hike affects even more citizens and thus can draw in even more participants.
Unions, NGOs and social activists are saying they can apply enough pressure on President Emmanuel Macron to revoke the law, just like they forced a revocation from then-President Jacques Chirac.
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