Interestingly, the factors causing the riots in France are similar to those that caused the French to vote no on the EU constitution. Here’s what we said in May at the time of the referndum regarding the causes for French rejection of the constitution, and a graphic that tells an important part of the story:
1) Jobs — It was as though this was 1992 and James Carville was running the “non” campaign: the timing couldn’t have been better. Overall unemployment at 10% and 22% among the young — with the prospects of greater weakness from further integration and immigration from the 10 new, low wage EU countries, as well as increased competition from China, in the offing;
2) Anti-Muslim sentiment — the impending negotiations with Turkey to enter the EU, with 70 million Muslims versus 60 million Frenchmen, many of whom already have a problem with those they call “les beurs,” and who cause a lot of crime and discord in France — Turkey’s ascension to the EU would arguably permit even greater Muslim immigration to France;
3) Putting off painful reforms — there is a sense that France would be diminished in the control of its own affairs — a victim of Anglo-Saxon liberalism in Chirac’s words — as a poorly performing 60 million player with a weak economy in an entity of 450 million, no matter how Jacques Chirac tried to spin France’s leadership role.
It seems that these issues have been played back to the majority of the French — in the harshest of terms — by its unemployed, unassimilated, ghetto-trapped, Muslim population. We would guess that the unemployment rate — said to be 30% in the ghettoes — may actually be higher, and the jobs low quality.
We see no easy way out of the terrible mess the French have on their hands. In the United States, economic growth has often helped gloss over and ameliorate social problems. Without painful reforms to the French welfare state and employment regulations, there is no clear path to get these disaffected young men off the dole and away from dangerous imams.
The French voted against the EU consitution to preserve an unsustainable status quo, hoping the day of reckoning could be pushed many years into the future. The way things look now, they appear to have bought themselves less than six months.
We point you to the interesting thoughts at StrategyPage as well.