The failure of the CPE does not prove the impossibility of reform in France, but rather illustrates political actors' incompetence when it comes to developing and leading reform efforts. The article argues the foregoing thesis by reviewing different moments when competence in these matters would have been able to make a difference. It then examines the collateral damage of this aborted reform with regard to the adminstration's capacity to act and with regard to the French political landscape from now until the 2007 presidential elections.

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