MANY public sector workers throughout France are on strike today in protest at the government’s attempts to force through unpopular youth contracts.
But beneath this opposition lies a general mistrust of the way the world’s economy is changing to a more market driven, Anglo-Saxon way.
This manifests itself in many ways throughout society from President Jacques Chirac’s decision to walk out of a meeting when a presentation was made in English, to protestors fearing the ‘Coca – colonisation’ of the French way of life.
And a recent survey from the University of Maryland appears to back up these worries with France standing out for its opposition to the market economy.
In a poll of over 20,000 people, when asked if “the free enterprise system and free market economy is the best system on which to base the future of the world”, 61 per cent agreed.
The highest level of support for the free enterprise system came from China, with 74 per cent, but France was the one country where most did not agree with this proposition.
Only 36 per cent of French people agreed that the free market economy was the best system, while 50 per cent disagreed.
Interestingly when people were then asked if more should be done to control the actions of large firms and protect consumers, around 75 per cent supported such measures.
France came second, just behind Mexico, with 86 per cent of respondents claiming big business has too much influence over government, but this was only just ahead of the US (85 per cent) and the UK (80 per cent).
So I wonder if much of the anger being expressed towards the French government today, and in the past, is because people feel the system is there to protect the elite in Paris and their cronies?
Will someone be bold enough to take on these vested interests come the Presidential elections next year, and offer the French people a new direction without them having to express their anger through violent protest on the streets?