Saturday, April 28, 2012

The trouble with Hollande is his resistance to change and a determination to preserve the French social model at all costs

For all [of Nicolas Sarkozy's shortcomings],
editorializes The Economist,
if we had a vote on May 6th, we would give it to Mr Sarkozy—but not on his merits, so much as to keep out Mr Hollande

Mr Hollande’s programme seems a very poor answer to all this—especially given that France’s neighbours have been undergoing genuine reforms. He talks a lot about social justice, but barely at all about the need to create wealth. Although he pledges to cut the budget deficit, he plans to do so by raising taxes, not cutting spending. Mr Hollande has promised to hire 60,000 new teachers. By his own calculations, his proposals would splurge an extra €20 billion over five years. The state would grow even bigger.

Mr Hollande evinces a deep anti-business attitude. He will also be hamstrung by his own unreformed Socialist Party and steered by an electorate that has not yet heard the case for reform, least of all from him. Nothing in the past few months, or in his long career as a party fixer, suggests that Mr Hollande is brave enough to rip up his manifesto and change France (see article).

… The trouble is that unlike, say, Italy’s Mario Monti, Mr Hollande’s objection to the compact is not just about such macroeconomic niceties as the pace of fiscal tightening. It is chiefly resistance to change and a determination to preserve the French social model at all costs. [François] Hollande is not suggesting slower fiscal adjustment to smooth the path of reform: he is proposing not to reform at all. No wonder Germany’s Angela Merkel said she would campaign against him.