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The public refusal of celebrated economist Thomas Piketty to accept the state's highest distinction, the Legion of Honour, sparked controversy in France last week. Some in the government sought to paint the best-selling left-wing economist's decision as that of a quixotic intellectual stuck inside an ivory tower. But as Hubert Huertas points out, Piketty's refusal was not based on vanity or a whim. Instead the affair throws the spotlight back on François Hollande himself, who as a presidential candidate championed Piketty's ideas to get himself elected but who once in office refused to implement them as government policy. In other words, the controversy has become a symbol of how the French president failed to keep his promise.
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