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No freedom of speech in France? June 6, 2009

Posted by Sverre in : World politics , 1 comment so far

I can’t yet find any English sources on this, but Norwegian newspaper Aftenpostenand the Swedish Aftonbladet report of events in France that don’t belong in any democratic country.  A French blogger was reportedly arrested and charged with “public insults” after having called the French Minister of Families, Nadine Sorano a liar. “Hou la menteuse” – “O, what a liar” are said to be the exact words of 49-year-old blogger Dominique Broueilh. The newspapers claim that Sorano has also called for tighter surveillance of bloggers in general by Frenchs ISPs.

If this is true, it is nothing short of an outrage. No democracy is possible if public figures are to be protected by such strict laws. Merely being impolite can’t be a reason to clamp down on free speach. I didn’t believe a democratic Western European country like France could employ such policies…

What are the French up to? March 31, 2009

Posted by Sverre in : Political economy, World politics , 1 comment so far

Just after writing the post on Le Maire’s speech, I came across this news story from AFP, that French president Nicolas Sarkozy is threatening to walk out on the G20 summit unless he gets his way.  According to Bloomberg, what he’s after is:

[…] to give more economic oversight power to the International Monetary Fund, and more financial oversight to an institution that would derive from the Financial Stability Forum, a group that brings together senior representatives of national financial authorities, regulators, central banks and international financial institutions.

The French leader is pushing for the G-20 to endorse accounting rules that reduce boom and bust economic cycles, and to regulate hedge funds and rating agencies. He’s calling for rules that would force banks to disclose traders pay to regulators, which could in turn ask financial institutions to increase reserves if their compensation system encourages risk taking.

The French do seem to be taking a confrontational line to get international actors to work together. This might possibly just be a display from Sarkozy’s side to show his domestic audience that he is taking action, without having to dig too deep into France’s own coffers. His moral-religious rhetoric seems to support this theory.

An EU-US trade war in the making? March 31, 2009

Posted by Sverre in : Political economy, World politics , 2comments

I was listening to an LSE podcast of a lecture by French Minister of State for European Affairs Bruno Le Maire, when I heard some surprising statements made. He was talking about how it was important for European nations not to resort to protectionism in the face of the current crisis when he happened to make some interesting, possibly disturbing, statements. He talks about the difference between protecting your industries and protectionism. I can’t spot the difference, can you?  (from approiximate 1h10min into the speech):

[…]so I am not in favour of protectionism, as I just said, I am just in favour of European measures – measures decided at the European level – that would prove to our citizens that we are taking into account their fears and worries and that we are trying to protect our European economy, that we are trying to protect our industries. This is a very difficult balance we have to find, but this is not protectionism. Protectionism means today that the UK would take some very concrete measures just to protect one of its plants, in New Hampshire for example, or London. Or that France would take some very national measures just to protect one of its industries or one of its plants in Normandie or the south of France without taking into account the interest of the UK and Germany and Spain and Italy. That’s the difference between the two ways of protectin industries and protecting our economies[…] (more…)

Picking apart a quantitative analysis October 3, 2008

Posted by Sverre in : Methods in political science, Political behavior , 1 comment so far

Kai Arzheimer posted on his blog a not yet published paper he wrote along with Elizabeth Carter of Keele University. The paper picks apart another paper on effects that contribute and don’t contribute to the electoral support of Le Pen’s Front Nationale in France, especially the volume of immigration.

My interest in the paper is not so much the substantial content as the nice reminder it was to me as an aspiring political scientist to still keep a critical eye towards papers that at first eyesight appear to have a thorough empirical basis. I don’t think I’d have noticed the flaws these two scientists did.

The paper is well worth a read for anyone interested in quantitative methods.

Read Kai Arzheimer’s post and both papers here.