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ECONOMICS

Left slams call for Thatcher Street in Paris

A proposal to name a street in the French capital after the late Margaret Thatcher has caused left wing members of the Paris council to see red. One suggested it would be more appropriate to name a rue after an IRA hunger striker.

Left slams call for Thatcher Street in Paris
Photo: AFP

Left-wing politicians on Paris city council have slammed a proposal to name a street in the French capital after Margaret Thatcher, suggesting instead that one be named after IRA hunger striker Bobby Sands.

City councillor Jerome Dubus of the right-wing UMP party has said he will propose naming a street after Thatcher, the Conservative former British prime minister who died on Monday, at an upcoming city council meeting.

But councillor Ian Brossat, of the Communist-backed Left Front, denounced the move and said the city would do better to honour Sands, the Northern Irish prisoner who died in a 1981 hunger strike while Thatcher was in office.

"The cynicism of the Parisian right knows no bounds," Brossat said. "Jerome Dubus's proposal is a joke."

Describing Thatcher as the "apostle of British ultra-liberalism, who left an appalling legacy for the state and the working classes", Brossat said it would be better to name a street after Sands, who he said Thatcher "allowed to die of hunger with other prisoners."

Several French cities already have a Rue Bobby Sands.

See also: 'Why France needs a dose of Thatcherism'

Since Thatcher's death those on the French left have been critical of the former British PM.

After Thatcher's death far-left firebrand Jean-Luc Melenchon, renowned for being outspoken, took to Twitter to deliver his own “homage” to the leader of three consecutive Conservative governments.

“Margaret Thatcher will find out in hell, exactly what she did to the miners,” Melenchon tweeted.

Given the role Thatcher played in undermining the power of Britain’s trade unions, their counterparts in France were critical of the former Tory chief.

“The Iron Lady did everything she could to break the expression and the fight of the British labour movement,” said Marc Blondel former secretary general of CGT-FO union. “She wanted to pacify the union movement but in doing so undermined democracy in her country.”

There was also a mixed reaction from France's former Prime Minister Pierre Mauroy, who served under President François Mitterrand in the early 1980s.

Former Socialist Prime Minister Pierre Mauroy, who in 1982 helped persuade his British counterpart to agree to the building of the Channel Tunnel, described Thatcher as a “formidable opponent”.

“She was a great British Prime Minister despite being conservative even reactionary,” Mauroy said, according to L’Express magazine.

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ECONOMICS

IMF hails France as ‘reform leader’ in boost for Macron

The International Monetary Fund on Monday hailed France's economic recovery as "impressive", in a strong endorsement of President Emmanuel Macron's pro-business reform drive.

IMF hails France as 'reform leader' in boost for Macron
Photo: AFP
“With this ambitious pace of reforms France has now become a reform leader in Europe,” the IMF said in its annual review.
   
It urged policymakers in Europe's second-biggest economy to stay the course and continue to implement reforms, including to the state railway SNCF, which has been hit by a wave of rolling strikes since April.
   
It should also “reduce the administrative burden for firms, while taking steps to further liberalise regulated professions”, the fund said.
   
“Over the last year, France has made impressive progress,” it said.
 
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France revises economic growth upwards in boost for MacronPhoto: AFP

“Reforms need to be implemented resolutely, monitored carefully, and reinforced as needed,” it added.
 
The IMF also said that while growth is expected to remain “robust” this year and in 2019, it would probably not reach the 2.3 percent level it hit in 2017.
   
The fund warned as well that should the country's reform drive slow down, the economic recovery would not reach its full potential.
   
The risk of a global trade war, sparked by US President Donald Trump's “America First” protectionist policies, could also dampen France's momentum, it added.
   
Another risk is the rise of eurosceptic parties across the continent.
   
While France managed to evade falling into the hands of a far-right, anti-establishment government in the election that catapulted Macron to power in 2017, other countries around Europe — most recently Italy — have not followed the same path.
   
“Increasing trade tensions, geopolitical uncertainty, or an erosion of confidence in the European project could negatively affect exports and growth, while a faster-than-expected normalisation of interest rates could weigh on public and private balance sheets,” it said.
   
The IMF's warning came a month after the European Union described the sudden rise in trade protectionism as the biggest threat to growth in the bloc.
   
The fund also said France should “build up resilience to shocks”, and work to reduce structural unemployment, along with its high public spending and debt levels.
   
“In its first year in office, the government has established an impressive track record of reforms aiming at addressing several of these challenges,” it said.
   
“The ongoing recovery provides a favourable window to press ahead with these reforms.”
   
Macron's reform drive saw him suffer a sharp drop in popularity after taking office, but his approval ratings have inched back up in recent months.
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