Three reasons why French Socialists are right to oppose PM Valls’ austerity plan

Manuel VallsFrance’s ruling socialist party is in revolt. A very vocal minority don’t like the austerity plan of new PM Manuel Valls. And they are threatening to vote it down. Here’s 3 reasons why they are right. (Translated by Tom Gill from the original by Christian Chavagneux )

France’s new prime minister – now three weeks into his job – last week unveiled a swinging austerity plan. Although the mix of measures is different than previous policy announcements, it is essentially the same thrust of economic policy aimed at limiting public deficits to win ‘business competitiveness’ and restore purchasing power to households that has been pursued for a number of years. And they are not working. Here’s why: Continue reading

François Hollande moves to silence left dissenters in French Socialist Party

hollande-et-parti-socialisteAfter their drubbing in the polls, François Hollande has acted swiftly to ensure his chosen candidate, Jean-Christophe Cambadélis, was installed as party leader.  Cambadélis’s task is to ensure that any opposition to the party’s rightwards shift is silenced, notably that of the Socialist Party (PS) left faction, Maintenant la gauche, which opposes deficit reduction, and argues for the replacement the EU ‘Merkozy’ treaty with an EU programme of growth and re-industrialisation, an EU minimum wage and fiscal harmonisation, wealth redistribution and the elimination of tax evasion. Who better to smash the left than a former Troskyist and 1968 student activist like Jean-Christophe Cambadélis. Continue reading

France’s socialists and a fitting executive pay cap

The French government this week announced plans to cap the salary of public sector chief executives at €450,000 per year. The decree, which will be released by the end of July assuming the socialists win a majority in the parliamentary election run-offs on Sunday, is designed to limit the accumulation of incomes, including fixed and variable compensation, to 20 times of the lowest wages in public sector organisations and state owned companies (ie 22,500 euros a year). Continue reading

French elections – more bad news than good?

First the good news. The Right is not only out of the Elysee Palace but it is on course to have lost control of parliament too. And in its place is probably the most progressive of social democrat parties in Europe today. The Socialists’ programme includes boosting industrial investment, youth employment and teacher numbers, hiking taxes on the rich, and partially reversing former president Nicolas Sarkozy’s regressive pension reforms. Francois Hollande’s election as President has already shifted the tone in Europe away from austerity and towards growth, although, with a commitment to balance the budget, it is very difficult to see how  this left turn can result into any sustained change of direction. Continue reading

François Hollande and the strange resurrection of French social democracy

Globalisation killed social democracy, and the experience of the Mitterand government in France between 1981-86 was the earliest intimation of the carnage that was to come. Well, that is the accepted wisdom, anyway.

My first ever visit to France came shortly after le vichysto-résistant made it to the Palais de l’Élysée. Even though I was a political rookie at the time, I could not help but notice the enthusiasm many young people felt for the first left of centre administration the country had seen since the 1950s. Continue reading