France: Reform by Decree

Sitting ramrod-erect at his ornate Louis XV desk in Elysee Palace, President Charles de Gaulle reaches out occasionally to snap on a loudspeaker dubbed le perroquet (the parrot) that permits him to listen to debate in the National Assembly. Lately the parrot has gone wild with a cacophony of shouting, desktop banging and name-calling that led in one embarrassing instance to a sword duel between two incensed Deputies. The sounds from the box have made painfully clear to De Gaulle that the mere plurality that Gaullists drew in the March parliamentary elections...

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