A Liberal from the Left

Frenchman Christian Blanc has spent his career doing what most people try to avoid: finding tough but necessary solutions to explosive problems. In the late '80s, as chief government negotiator in New Caledonia, Blanc brokered a peace accord that ended years of bloody separatist violence. Later, as head of the Paris public-transport authority, he battled unruly unions and a waffling Socialist government to end an era of incessant, paralyzing strikes. As president of Air France from 1993-97, Blanc brought the airline from the brink of bankruptcy to profitability — and partial privatization — by alternatively cajoling and compelling rebellious staff to...

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