All the stuff you never knew you needed to know about life in rural France.....and all the stuff the books and magazines won't tell you.

Saturday, 19 May 2012

There's something wrong here....

Above, we have the photograph of the government picked by Mr. Ayrault, the Prime Minister selected by the incoming President of the French Republique, Mr. Hollande.
A government demonstrating parity - seventeen men, seventeen women -  and diversity - non white faces.

Here we have the female members of the government accompanying the President and the Prime Minister.
All seventeen of them.

The parity.

But also the diversity.

Check the top picture.
Take away the women and there are only white faces to be seen.

Of the 'regalian' ministries....Finance, Foreign Affairs, Defence, Interior, Justice...only one, Justice, has gone to a woman - a woman from Guyana, thus neatly copping the two categories in one person.
The rest remain in the hands of the white males.

So, overall there might be parity, but parity without clout, without power.
Diversity has become a sub category of parity, and men are excluded.

It strikes me that this new government shows exactly what is going wrong with the integration of originally immigrant communities in France.
Immigrant women can benefit from the 'empowerment' programmes open to all women in France  - until they hit the glass ceiling - but what happens to the men?

They get sidetracked.
Much depends on who your patron is in France - who will push you - and pushing a woman from an immigrant community gets patrons more brownie points than pushing a man with the same background.

Is it any wonder that the men rely on their own communities for validation of their worth?
Any wonder that they confine their efforts and their talents to their own communities - but, without patrons - unable to empower those communities.

I'm not a fan of Hollande.
I'm not a fan of his party.

But it is a party that claims to offer opportunity to all.
To help the disadvantaged take their place in society.

So where are the non white men in Hollande's government ?
Where are the campaign promises to empower men from immigrant communities?

French society has intertwined two strands.....integration of immigrant communities and female empowerment.
In that immigrant communities are seen as patriarchal the effort goes to empowering women.
Very laudable...but where does that leave the men?

Powerless in the context of general society they reinforce the patriarchal power in their own community.
Cocks of their own dunghill.

Why cannot Hollande's party see this?
Because it is run by the products of the 'tick the box' nature of 'higher' education in France.
Not only is there only one answer...there is only one question.
The products of the Ecole Nationale d'Administration think as a shoal of small fish in the ocean.
It makes for cohesion in administrative practice and for the survival of the mass of the shoal, but not for flexibility of thought, nor for anticipation of problems.

The Sarkozy presidency was a 'blip' the enarques are back in control.
They can happily tick the parity and diversity boxes without troubling themselves as to the relation of these boxes to French society.
Their blindness only equaled by their arrogance.

An arrogance shown by that nice guy President, Mr.Hollande.

He arrived at the Elysee Palace for the handover of power with Mr.Sarkozy. The two men met briefly, the nuclear codes were handed over and Mr.Sarkozy prepared to leave with his wife.

Mr.Hollande did not have the courtesy to escort the couple to their car - something the humblest person in France would have done without thinking.

Mr. Hollande could not even wait until the couple had reached their car. He turned on his heel and entered the palace.

I bear no brief for Mr.Sarkozy and less for his wife.
He will inevitably be involved in unpleasant legal enquiries before too long as he is not one of the elite from the ENA -  he is a maverick easily sacrificed on the altar of keeping up the pretense that France is not a banana republic without even the bananas to hide her shame.
Mme. Sarkozy has enriched her friends at public expense.

But for an incoming President to dispense with the normal courtesies of life, not to speak of the magnanimity required by victory, indicates that France is back in the hands of her natural masters......

The masters of smoke and mirrors.


  1. It is strange only to have white men. France is a veritiable racial melting pot, given its colonial past. Even in our rural, old-fashioned part of France there are plenty of fairly senior non-white men in roles such as Principals of schools, managers of shops and businesses, surgeons consultants in hospitals. Paris and politics must be bustling with them. Presumably M. Hollande didn't look very hard...

    1. Where I lived a non white face was rare - except for the local hospital, where nearly every doctor was of North African origin.
      But, as you say, in France in general there has to be a pool of non white talent - so why aren't they visible in the PS?

  2. A poor man's magic show yet again...

    1. Most of my friends vote PS, but there were groans when this team were revealed....a great political balancing act between the sects of the PS but no sign of the radical changes they feel that France needs.

  3. Hello:
    Look no further outside of France than across the Channel to HM Government where Old Etonians constantly pat each other on the back for their own worth whilst tolerating all of those, men and few women, who come from less illustrious, privileged backgrounds.

    1. Yes indeed!
      Proof that only money talks!
      As far as France is concerned for Eton read ENA.

  4. Fly, the BBC really need to hire you to give a warts and all picture of French politics. Their current reporters seem to be dazzled by Mr Nice Guy Hollande and are portraying him as the best thing since sliced bread.

    I take your point about the sidelining of men from immigrant communities, but a bit of me still cheered to see quite so many women in a government.

    1. I too was delighted to see so many women being named....until I started to realise that only two of them had major posts and one of those was in the traditional 'social care' sector seen as being a fit post for women to hold.

      I can understand the feeling that anything is better than Sarkozy - but the cosiness of the press might be explained by the hope of journalists that Hollande will restore the pre Sarkozy tax privilege of journalists to have thirty per cent of their income disregarded for tax....

    2. Oh dear, soft subjects for women again! Sigh...

      I didn't know that journalists had previously had a cushy tax break in France. No wonder French papers seem to be so uncritical at times.

    3. French journalists have a keen awareness of the buttered side of the bread...

  5. Colour and gender should be irrelevant. The ability to do the job is what matters.

    1. Exactly. I am not encouraged by all the Strausss-Kahn followers in the Finance and Economy ministries, either...

  6. Here here! We second Perpetua's suggestion re BBC.
    Was pleased about the number of women but take your point about the lack of non-white men. Our 'local' lass Marisol Touraine has been appointed Minister of Health...we'll see how it goes.

    1. She's an expert, so probably a round peg in a round hole - but why did she go down this route?
      Because men go for the 'hard disc' areas of politics and women stand aside and let them.

  7. There's always so much talk about racial and female equality, but when it comes down to it, things haven't really changed. Perhaps Mr Hollande, on introducing an equal amount of females, some of whom are non-white, thought that he'd got it covered and that no-one would notice.

    And I agree about his rudeness on Mr Sarkozy's departure. It speaks volumes about a man who behaves in such a manner.

    1. Well this crabby old bat noticed....

      I agree about the discourtesy. Tells you all you need to know about the man who poses as a friendly, outgoing sort of person...

  8. There's a lovely piece in Zebuzzeo about who's wearing the trousers in Hollande's relationship, and the slight matter of Ms T earning a cool €3m per year, slightly more than the €4000 per month that Hollande declares makes you rich and therefore to be hated...

  9. Pete Townshend's lyrics to "Won't get fooled again" apring to mind...
    "Meet the new boss...same as the old boss"

    1. Here we go again,
      Happy as can be,
      All good friends
      And jolly good company....

  10. Sarah, Blogger is playing up again so here is my reply...
    I hadn't read the zebuzzeo - out all day - but I had read about the links between the rotweiller and the bank her grandfather owned....not to speak of the shares in the T.V. channel on which she fronts.
    Also interesting is the allegation that an investigation into her antecedents and the company she keeps was halted by an appeal to Sarkozy by a media magnate whose father was linked to the grandfather's bank.

  11. Excellent blogpost. Plus ça change etc . . .

    1. As one of my friends said
      Changement...c'est pour quand?