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Et tu, Berger?

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Share the post "Et tu, Berger?" Emmanuel Macron appears to have lost Laurent Berger. This is the French political equivalent of a bad Groundhog Day: we are in for at least six more weeks of winter strikes. I won’t pretend to explain the difference between the “legal age” of retirement and the “equilibrium age,” or between a “parametric reform” and a “systemic reform.” Although the task of explanation would not be impossible, it would nevertheless be pointless, because what it comes down is the fundamental mistrust between the parties to this standoff. On all the issues in this imbroglio, compromise should be possible, but it’s not going to happen until everyone has tired of standing on principle while queuing up for rare buses and subways. I’m not sure that the

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Emmanuel Macron appears to have lost Laurent Berger. This is the French political equivalent of a bad Groundhog Day: we are in for at least six more weeks of winter strikes. I won’t pretend to explain the difference between the “legal age” of retirement and the “equilibrium age,” or between a “parametric reform” and a “systemic reform.” Although the task of explanation would not be impossible, it would nevertheless be pointless, because what it comes down is the fundamental mistrust between the parties to this standoff. On all the issues in this imbroglio, compromise should be possible, but it’s not going to happen until everyone has tired of standing on principle while queuing up for rare buses and subways.

I’m not sure that the government has any more cards up its sleeve. It has been wooing Berger and the CFDT for 18 months, to no avail. Macron’s charm has failed to work its magic. What happens next is anyone’s guess, but the March municipal elections are shaping up to be a disaster for Macron and his party. The months ahead will be interesting for those ambitious to replace the president. It’s time for them to show their hands by proposing ideas to a government that seems to be out of them.

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Art Goldhammer
Writer, translator, scholar, blogger on French Politics, affiliate of Harvard's Center for European Studies, writes for The American Prospect, The Nation, etc.

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