The 2017 graduates of the Ecole Nationale d’Administration (ENA) are called la Promotion George Orwell. In French as in English, the adjective “Orwellian” refers to the novel 1984 and describes a world dominated by a vast secretive bureaucracy in which officials work tirelessly to keep the population fenced in by a dense network of deliberately incomprehensible regulations. It would be nice to think that this was the work of a hidden satirist, but the ENA is a particularly humourless institution, and a much more probable explanation is a simple administrative error.

Meanwhile, the whole of France is suffering from a giant administrative error, drowning in an impossibly detailed bureaucracy that prevents change, cripples the economy, defeats the political system and drives the population crazy. And at the heart of the problem is the ENA.

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