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France profonde

With a deficit of €13bn, the French health system is in crisis. GPs strike, specialists get special treatment, a two-speed system is coming and the public doesn't care

By Tim King   March 2005

In France, every new year kicks off with public sector strikes. They affect schools, hospitals, railways, postal and power services. Yet, despite this year’s honourably robust turnout, the country is neither “in the grip of” the strikers, nor being “held to ransom” by them. Far from the regime-changing chants which brought down Alain Juppé’s government in 1997, this year’s strikes seem overcome with weariness: tired of Jean-Pierre Raffarin’s government, certainly, but cynical about the chances of it being changed. And this seems to be not so much resignation to the powers that be than to their own lassitude. “The French…

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