'Oui' to European Reform
When it comes to European economic reform, it doesn't seem to matter if it's driven by a Socialist like Germany's Gerhard Schröder, or by the conservative French President Jacques Chirac. In both cases, voters don't like it.
In French local elections Sunday, voters overwhelmingly repudiated the center-right coalition of Mr. Chirac, handing the Socialists their biggest victory in more than two decades. Considering the recent Socialist upset in Spain, one might erroneously lump this in with a leftist trend across Europe. But Spain turned on its own circumstance - handling terrorism. The French Socialists made this election a referendum against reform.
So far, Paris has made cuts to save state pensions and the social security system from bankruptcy. Ahead lie reforms to simplify hiring and firing, and open up state enterprises to private capital. The French president may reshuffle his Cabinet, or refine his reform plans, but like his friend in Berlin, he must stay the course.