The French Model

Europe | The France that works

Beneath France’s revolts, hidden success

On many counts it is quietly doing better than other European countries

o far this year the French have done a fine job portraying their country as broken. Twice they have spread mayhem, and derailed a state visit, with street rebellions. The first, over a rise in the retirement age, underlined people’s refusal to face up to the financing needs of the state pension system. The second, over the fatal police shooting of a 17-year-old, spoke of a failure to get law enforcement right in rough neighbourhoods. Emmanuel Macron, the president, runs a minority government that seems to lurch from crisis to crisis.

Yet behind the headlines, one of the abiding mysteries of France today is this: a country with an aversion to change, a talent for revolt and an excessive taste for taxes still manages to get so much right. Recently France has even outperformed its big European peers. Since 2018 cumulative growth in gdp in France, albeit modest, has been twice that in Germany, and ahead of Britain, Italy and Spain.

The Economist

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