Wednesday, August 02, 2006


France, its Muslims, and the Future

Of late, it has frequently been suggested that France--and increasingly, not only France but western Europe as a whole--is heading for a Muslim majority. No longer will France be plausibly described as the "eldest daughter" of the Catholic Church; no longer will Luther’s church have any sway in his homeland; no longer will local Christianities mark the daily lives of people in Spain and Italy, the Netherlands and Sweden. Instead of church towers, we will have minarets. Instead of the code napoléon, we will have the shari’a. Instead of women sunning themselves on Mediterranean beaches and same-sex marriage in the Low Countries, we’ll have women forced to wear burqas and gays once again closeted. The past centuries of social liberalization in Europe will be brutally reversed, as Europe enters a new dark age. (But particularly France, since it has too many Muslims to be saved.)
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France - Europe's New Sick Man?

As France recovers from the election of Sarkozy as new president this Sunday one of the topics which quite naturally has been high on the agenda throughout the campaign is the French economy and how to move things forward in what, after all, constitutes the Eurozone's second biggest economy. I am of course not the only one who has made the assessment that the French economy may now be on the brink of something of a new era after so many years with Chirac at the helm and scoping around through the economic commentaries the French economy is apparently not in a particularly good shape. Over at Morgan Stanley's GEF, for example, Eric Chaney recently nominated France as the new sick man of Europe invoking four macroeconomic indicators (GDP growth, exports, unemployment and public finances) as being worrying beacons of Europe's new economic laggard. However, as Emmanuel from AFOE has recently tried to argue by taking the BBC fact sheet on the French economy to task, the real position is much less clear than many pretend, and France's long-term growth potential may be being systematically underestimated in the same way that Germany's is being systematically overestimated. Indeed just as one swallow definitely does not make a summer, one year's performance definitely does not constitute a trend.

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