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Pericolo Hollande 27.04.12

L'Economist è così preoccupato dalle promesse elettorali del candidato socialista Hollande da appoggiare il presidente Sarkozy.

Although you would never know it from the platforms the candidates campaigned on, France desperately needs reform. Public debt is high and rising, the government has not run a surplus in over 35 years, the banks are undercapitalised, unemployment is persistent and corrosive and, at 56% of GDP, the French state is the biggest of any euro country.

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.

Optimists retort that compared with the French Socialist Party, Mr Hollande is a moderate who worked with both François Mitterrand, the only previous French Socialist president in the Fifth Republic, and Jacques Delors, Mitterrand's finance minister before he became president of the European Commission. He led the party during the 1997-2002 premiership of Lionel Jospin, who was often more reformist than the Gaullist president, Jacques Chirac. They dismiss as symbolic Mr Hollande's flashy promises to impose a 75% top income-tax rate and to reverse Mr Sarkozy's rise in the pension age from 60 to 62, arguing that the 75% would affect almost nobody and the pension rollback would benefit very few. They see a pragmatist who will be corralled into good behaviour by Germany and by investors worried about France's creditworthiness.

[...] It is conceivable that President Hollande might tip the balance in favour of a little less austerity now. Equally, he may scare the Germans in the opposite direction. Either way one thing seems certain: a French president so hostile to change would undermine Europe's willingness to pursue the painful reforms it must eventually embrace for the euro to survive. That makes him a rather dangerous man.