The French Cul de Sac

PARIS – As France’s presidential election looms, the country is approaching a breaking point. For three decades, under both the right and the left, the country has pursued the same incompatible, if not contradictory, goals. With the sovereign-debt crisis pushing French banks – and thus the French economy – to the wall, something will have to give, and soon.

When the crunch comes – almost certainly in the year or two following the election – it will cause radical, wrenching change, perhaps even more far-reaching than Charles de Gaulle’s coup d’état, which led to the establishment of the Fifth Republic in 1958.