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May 08 2012

What to expect from the new French president

Diana Johnstone examines the politics of the various parties in the French elections and gives a forecast of what we might expect of the new president. She says that he will face a lot of pressure by the banks to continue the austerity program but may be able to move on social issues.

France is under specific orders to deepen pension reform (meaning pension reduction, one way or another), reduce or eliminate job security, limit minimum wage increases, shift taxes from income to consumption and further deregulate professional and commercial activities. These anti-egalitarian, pro-capital, anti-labor measures leave virtually no leeway for the “Socialist” president to do anything significant in favor of economically disadvantaged segments of the population.

Instead, he can advocate gay marriage, which has become the flagship proposal of those who want to prove they are “on the left” by infuriating a segment of the conservative right. Hollande has promised to give homosexuals the right to marry and adopt children, to enforce employment quotas for the handicapped, to propose legislation allowing the incurably ill to benefit from medical assistance to end life in dignity, to combat racial discrimination, including in police identity checks. If – and it is still a big if – he gets a majority in next month’s legislative elections, President Hollande can keep these civilizational promises without asking permission of Brussels or “the markets”. And based on experience, it is to be expected that the police will be better behaved toward ethnic minorities under a Socialist government than under Sarkozy.

However, when it comes to Hollande’s key promises to shift from “austerity” to economic growth and job creation, the gambling “markets” are already yapping at his heels and the European Union stands as a bulwark against any effective measures in that direction.

And what of the contradiction between many of Hollande’s minor economic proposals and the imperatives of the European stability pact to make drastic budget cuts?

François Hollande is not one to throw a tantrum, as Margaret Thatcher used to do when she demanded her “money back”. Hollande’s whole political career is in service of the French Socialist Party, totally devoted to the ideology of European unification. Knowing this, business commentators speculate that France’s partners, meaning mainly Germany, will make some minor, insignificant concession to allow Hollande to save face before he inevitably capitulates to the relentless demands of “the markets”.

So basically, we should not expect France to lead the charge against the austerians.

8 comments

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  1. 1
    Naughtius Maximus

    What I’d like to know from anti austerians (especially in broke basket case countries) is where they intend to get the money from to pay for things.
    Of course public services shouldn’t be sacrificed for bond holders but face it the days of cheap money are over and people who don’t want austerity also don’t want to pay more taxes; people have to grasp the fact that if they want thigns they have to pay for them.

  2. 2
    Synfandel

    France is under specific orders to deepen pension reform (meaning pension reduction, one way or another), reduce or eliminate job security, limit minimum wage increases, shift taxes from income to consumption and further deregulate professional and commercial activities.

    A weak, hungry, desperate, and insecure worker is a happy and productive worker, you know. If we had just tried harder back in 2008 to starve the workers into submission and gild the toilets of the rich, we would never have had a global recession. Everyone would have been happy—well, everyone who matters.

  3. 3
    Synfandel

    Do you believe that the poor have been getting rich from poor public fiscal oversight? Then why aren’t they rich?

    In Greece, the ordinary worker has income tax deducted from his pay regularly as workers do in most countries, but the rich are just asked to file a tax return and pay up. Almost none of the rich have done so in many years and the government has failed to enforce the tax regulations. Greece could take an enormous bite out of its debt by reviewing taxes on the wealthy and making them pay years of unpaid back taxes. Trying to squeeze it out of now-unemployed ordinary Greeks is pointless; they don’t have the money and most of them have already paid what they owed as they went.

  4. 4
    Sunny

    True. How did countries like Greece get into the situation they are in to begin with? I do not think it is simply a case of irresponsible lending. It is also a case of irresponsible spending. Unfortunately, one never seems to get both sides of the story in a single article.

  5. 5
    Pierce R. Butler

    Sunny – maybe you can find that article you want here.

  6. 6
    StevoR : Free West Papua, free Tibet, let the Chagossians return!

    So France is now ruled by Holland? ;-)

  7. 7
    StevoR : Free West Papua, free Tibet, let the Chagossians return!

    Return of the Dutch empire? Only this time in Europe? Does that mean compulsory windmills and clog-wearing for all Parisians or that Amsterdanm gets all the best cheese and wine as trophies?

  8. 8
    MRJ News

    will he be any better than the last clown?

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