Pension Reform Strikes at Traditions of Equality in France ; Second Mass Protest in a Month Highlights Discontent with Government Plans

By Peter Ford writer of The Christian Science Monitor | The Christian Science Monitor, June 4, 2003 | Go to article overview

Pension Reform Strikes at Traditions of Equality in France ; Second Mass Protest in a Month Highlights Discontent with Government Plans


Peter Ford writer of The Christian Science Monitor, The Christian Science Monitor


Large swaths of French public life almost ground to a halt Tuesday as public-sector workers staged new strikes against pension- reform plans they fear could herald a broad attack on the country's cherished welfare state.

Schools and post offices closed; docks and airports emptied; and commuters squeezed onto buses, trains, and metros running to sharply reduced timetables as the second mass protest in a month snarled public services. The one-year-old conservative government, however, staking its future on reform of a creaking state pension system, said it would not back down.

"There is no question of withdrawing in order to buy social peace," Education Minister Luc Ferry declared.

"This reform is one of the symbols of President Chirac's campaign promises," says Alain Duhamel, a prominent French political commentator. "Retreat would be an enormous defeat for [Prime Minister] Jean Pierre Raffarin. He could not survive a withdrawal of this bill."

The struggle over pensions in France reflects a thorny issue for many other European nations, where growing numbers of retirees are placing an increasing burden on regimes funded by a shrinking workforce.

Behind the trial of strength over French pensions lie deeper fears fuelling a certain public support for the strikers, say some observers. As the government drafts future reforms to social security and plans for administrative decentralization, traditional pillars of French society could crumble.

"People feel that they are impotent witnesses to the dismantling of the welfare state and of the state itself" says Colette Ysmal, a political analyst and author. "There is a very deep political and moral crisis in France."

Reforms due to be approved by parliament next month would force public-sector employees to work for 40 years in order to retire with full benefits - in line with the private sector - instead of the present 37.5 years.

By 2012, everyone would have to work for 41 years, in a move the government says is essential to keep the pension system afloat as fewer and fewer people of working age support more and more pensioners.

"Nobody likes to work longer and pay more," says Mr. Duhamel. "The French are not happy about it, but by and large they are resigned to it because they are aware that a reform is needed."

They also know that the government abandoned earlier plans to reform the system even more radically, by introducing personal pension funds to complement the current "pay as you go" regime. That proposal, making individuals responsible for their own retirement plans instead of laying the burden on society as a whole, would have been a body blow to traditional French notions of social solidarity. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Pension Reform Strikes at Traditions of Equality in France ; Second Mass Protest in a Month Highlights Discontent with Government Plans
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.