Why France is likely to elect a Socialist Über Loser as their president

An Indian living in the West writes:

Sarkozy will definitely lose. I must disagree with you on that.

Sarkozy has the problem of being the incumbent in a time of economic trouble. Whether justly or unjustly, the majority of the electorate associates him with the causes of France’s current economic woes. The rise in the support for Front National is also due to economic problems which has shifted many disillusioned voters into the arms of the FN.

The majority of people in France are living in a fool’s paradise and Hollande and the Socialists are continuing to tell them sweet little lies to feed the delusion. The hard facts are that France’s industries have stagnated or migrated in varying degrees in the last decade. Before the euro came in, France had a much larger share of European exports and had industries that were genuinely competitive. This is much less the case now. Most European industries are struggling to compete with the Germans on quality and with the Chinese on price. On top of this, France’s banks lent large sums of money to all the PIIGS countries and those debts are souring. The national debt is closing in on 100 percent of GDP (90 percent is often considered the point of no return—economic history shows that there are very few exceptions to this rule). If you add bad debts of the banks on top of this, the point of no return has been easily crossed.

The truly awful scale of France’s economic problems are being disguised by rhetoric being fed to a populace that is deemed not mature enough to face up to facts (and who is to say this view is wrong?). Among the two combatants, Hollande is making the more unrealistic promises. He is appealing to the French instincts to go back to the 1970s with the fat, bloated welfare state, a 35 hour working week, and a promise to cut the retirement age from 62 to 60 (Sarkozy increased it from 60 to 62 and as a result became deeply unpopular). Those are the things the French electorate want. They do not want to work like the Chinese or the Americans and they do not want to compete. Protection from competition and the cosseted “French way of life” is what is considered to be at stake here.

The hard reality is that the “French way of life” is toast. The French style welfare state and bloated bureaucracy is completely unsustainable and is driving the country to the brink of bankruptcy. If you need one statistic to sum it up, did you know that the state consumes 56 percent of French GDP every year? The ratio was around 60 percent in the countries behind the Iron Curtain.

The French electorate has no appetite for a man who is regarded as “soft” on Capitalism (Sarkozy). Hollande is promising marginal tax rates of 75 percent on the “rich.” That will just about do it for France. If he comes to power, expect a French default on their sovereign debt within his first term. Capital will flee France at the first sign of punitive taxation to the tax haven right next door—Switzerland.

LA replies:

Thanks for the informative comment. The fact that large numbers of French seriously resented an increase of the retirement age from 60 to 62 suggests a seriously decadent populace. And I did not know that the French state consumes 56 percent of GDP. That’s just stunning.

- end of initial entry -

May 6

Timothy A. writes:

I agree that Hollande will defeat Sarkozy today. This scenario follows the recent European scenario in which the ruling party or coalition is punished for the economic crisis, and the opposition rewarded. Where the center-right is in power (as in France), it is defeated and replaced by the center-left, and vice-versa. The pathetic thing is that neither center-right nor center-left have any real room to make changes, since they are hemmed in to the same policy choices by EU institutions (bureaucrats, bankers and courts). This applies most importantly to the economy, but also to other issues, like immigration. All real power is out of the hands of the voters in the various European countries, resulting in a sham democracy.

The real test election in Europe today will be in Greece, where the pro-Europe political parties, the dominant center-left PASOK and center-right ND, which currently have formed a grand-coalition government, are polling 40% - combined! - in the face of the extreme financial crisis in Greece. The other 60% is going to communist, far-left, right-wing populist and neo-fascist parties. If the Greeks vote not just to replace Tweedledum with Tweedledee but to reject the whole system, the results will be interesting (as in the old curse - May you live in interesting times).

Posted by Lawrence Auster at May 05, 2012 09:23 PM | Send

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