An article in the "Le Figaro Réussir" supplement this morning calls attention to the fact that instead of government-style business the new France will be encouraging business-style government.  This is picking up on a trend that has been developing over the past 10 years.  This government will no longer be a regime that tries to impose its will on the private sector through parachuting into state-owned businesses some very business-unsavvy graduates of the Ecole Nationale d'Administration (ENA).  In fact the new government is one in which graduates of the ENA are nearly absent.

The new government put in place by Nicolas Sarkozy and François Fillon only counts two ministers who graduated from the ENA: Alain Juppé and Valérie Pecresse.  Nicolas Sarkozy himself graduated from Nanterre University with a law degree.  Nanterre was where the 1968 movement started.  After that Nicolas Sarkozy spent a couple of years in Sciences Po (l'Institut d'Etudes Politiques, aka IEP) in Paris. 

After 1945, the IEP/Sciences Po was downgraded to become a mere stepping stone to the ENA.  The ENA graduates quickly used their networks to put in place a career-development path to take control of the French political system and place their own people at the head of the state-owned monopolies. 

But if we go back to a time when graduates from the ancestor of Sciences Po had a major hand in government, 1870 to 1914, we can see that this was the period that finally put an end to the turmoil that had started with the French revolution in 1789.  It was a time when France began to catch up with the other industrialised countries in Europe, and the ancestor of Sciences Po provided in its own right many civil servants to a deliberately low-deficit, free-market France that rejoiced in small government.  At that time the French stock market was second only in size to the North American stock market.  

Is the new business-style government and the new Sciences Po model a harbinger of good things to come in France? 

 


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