The Economist: The rather dangerous Monsieur Hollande
IT IS half of the Franco-German motor that drives the European Union. It has been the swing country in the euro crisis, poised between a prudent north and spendthrift south, and between creditors and debtors. And it is big. If France were the next euro-zone country to get into trouble, the single currency’s very survival would be in doubt.
That is why the likely victory of the Socialist candidate, François Hollande, in France’s presidential election matters so much. In the first round on April 22nd Mr Hollande came only just ahead of the incumbent, Nicolas Sarkozy. Yet he should win the second round on May 6th, because he will hoover up all of the far-left vote that went to Jean-Luc Mélenchon and others and also win a sizeable chunk from the National Front’s Marine Le Pen and the centrist François Bayrou.
Mr Sarkozy has a mountain to climb. Many French voters seem viscerally to dislike him. Neither Ms Le Pen (who, disturbingly, did well) nor Mr Bayrou (who, regrettably, did not) is likely to endorse him, as both will gain from his defeat. So, barring a shock, such as an implosion in next week’s televised debate, Mr Hollande can be confident of winning in May, and then of seeing his party triumph in June’s legislative election.
This newspaper endorsed Mr Sarkozy in 2007, when he bravely told French voters that they had no alternative but to change. He was unlucky to be hit by the global economic crisis a year later. He has also chalked up some achievements: softening the Socialists’ 35-hour week, freeing universities, raising the retirement age. Yet Mr Sarkozy’s policies have…….Read More
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