France’s Socialist government, having concluded that socialist labor legislation is stifling job growth and propping up the unemployment rate, is enacting pro-business economic reforms over the objections of more left-wing members of the party. BBC reports:
The French cabinet has given the go-ahead for Prime Minister Manuel Valls to force through highly controversial labour reforms.An extraordinary cabinet meeting invoked the French constitution’s rarely used Article 49.3, allowing the government to bypass parliament.It came after rebel MPs from the governing Socialist party had vowed to vote down the bill.The reforms will make it easier for employers to hire and fire workers. […]The government says relaxing workers’ protection will encourage businesses to hire more people and help to combat chronic unemployment.
Valls’ decision is part of a long-running trend: For decades, the decline of the blue social model has been pushing many European countries, including ones we think of as social democracies, to abandon some of the more statist features of their economic agendas. Policies that worked relatively well in closed, stable, national economies of the mid-20th century fail to deliver in the open, dynamic economies of the 21st—and even center-left governments are forced to adapt to this reality once they take power.But the fact that the changes had to be forced through by executive decree also highlights the challenges facing democratic governance on both sides of the Atlantic. Executive power in the U.S. has steadily expanded in the last two administrations, in part because of political rancor and Congressional gridlock. Most European governments have been able to avoid this outcome because Parliamentary systems are more conducive to building temporary political majorities. But as their countries continue to grapple with economic headwinds and social upheaval, it may be that Parliamentary systems, too, will start to show signs of decay.