In May of 2012, French socialist Francois Hollande swept to power, winning an impressive victory over his more conservative counterpart, Nicolas Sarkozy. For Europe, it seemed a turning point; perhaps the beginning of the end for any semblance of conservatism and a move towards outright socialism. Less than two years removed from that electoral victory, however, socialism is now barely limping along. The policies that candidate Hollande promised to impose have been a crushing blow to an already distressed French economy. While the other nations of Europe have begun pulling themselves out of economic stagnation, France has done the impossible, and is actually seeing their economy get worse.
The French unemployment rate has climbed to a staggering 10.9%
France is having a tough time competing on the world stage, as competitor nations have begun cutting taxes and easing regulations in an effort to attract businesses. Some of these countries have also begun electing more conservative governments, making these pro-business decisions a more likely outcome. For France, though, a turn towards capitalism and away from socialism remains difficult because the government is a socialist one. Cutting spending, lowering taxes (or at the least not raising them), easing regulations, and making decisions that would weaken labor unions would fly in the face of socialist philosophy. Proving how difficult things are in France is the very idea that the socialists are considering these pro-business moves; but considering them and enacting them are very different things.
Since the socialist victory in France, the most high profile evidence of the French economic decline has been the flight from France of the rich, powerful and famous. Once a place to which the rich flocked for luxury and ease, France has now become the place to flee, thanks to its imposition of draconian taxes upon those who succeed financially. Those making millions have fled France’s growing suffocating tax system to seek friendlier tax climates like Belgium, the United Kingdom, Germany and even Russia.
In fact, the oppressive tax system put in place by France’s socialist government has cost the nation over one-million jobs, while chasing out over 60,000 of the country’s wealthiest citizens. Laurence Parisot, the head of the MEDEF, France’s largest union of employers, went so far as to say, “Large foreign investors are shunning France altogether. It’s becoming really dramatic. Ten years ago, Germany was the poor man of Europe and if we don’t act now, that title will soon be ours.”
Things are so bad for Hollande’s socialist government, that he has broken records no politician ever wants to break. When he came into office he had an approval rating of 54% in August of 2012 to just 23% in the latest poll of the French electorate. That precipitous drop has come in just over a year of failing destructive policies that Hollande’s socialist government has put into place. Sadly for the French people, the next scheduled Presidential election is still four years away.
Can the French people hold out four more years? I’m not sure they can…
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