10 Feb 2012
- Polls suggest that François Hollande begins the French Presidential campaign as clear favourite to defeat Nicolas Sarkozy in April/May. Although the race is still contestable, Hollande currently leads Sarkozy across almost all demographics and professional cohorts.
- The rhetoric of Hollande’s campaign is a blunt reassertion of French autonomy and a rejection of the prevailing political mood in elite circles in Berlin and Brussels. Although a pro-European, Hollande rejects the current draft EU Treaty and proposes an expansionary French budget balanced chiefly by tax rises on business and the wealthy.
- Much of what Hollande pledges looks undeliverable in the face of the markets, the constraints of office and the resistance of his European partners. It will also be impossible if he does not secure a large victory in the French Assembly elections in June. We may yet discover the pragmatist under the rhetorical radical.
- But in tone his programme marks the first major statement of the political backlash against the consensus for public spending cuts and austerity that Berlin has made the central plank of its Eurozone strategy over the last six months. It raises difficult questions about how quickly Franco-German cooperation could revive in the event of a Hollande victory.
The views expressed in this note can be attributed to the named author(s) only.