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.