Monday, April 16, 2007


The French are in the final week of the first round of their Presidential election, and it's not pretty:

One opinion poll last year showed that only a third of the French thought that the free market economy was the best economic model.

To this, add a slow-moving bureaucracy, a labour code as thick as the Bible, and a climate of opinion that often equates the word "patron," the French for boss, with an evil oppressor.

These attitudes stem from economic illiteracy, according to some observers.

"The French have an extremely superficial knowledge of their own and the world economy," said Michel Gurfinkiel, one of a growing band of commentators whose lamenting of France's problems has marked them out as "declinologists."

"They are kept in this phenomenal ignorance by the media and the politicians," he said.

"Globalisation is what helps keep France alive. But the French don't understand this. They're free riders on US power. They take advantage of a global system largely run by the US, and France relies on US military power for stability in the world," said Gurfinkiel.

....And many economists agree that the three leading candidates have identified the right issues. Their campaigns focus on ways of boosting employment, they want to reconcile voters with business, and help small businesses grow.

But Royal has said she would renationalise the former electricity and gas monopolies, EDF and GDF, and that she wants to raise the minimum wage.

Sarkozy is seen as the most economically liberal, but he also indulges in crowd-pleasing rhetoric, saying recently he saw free trade as "a policy of naivety."

No comments: