Giving the middle class tax breaks while tempting their employers to leave en masse will hardly improve the current situation. The markets know this, and apparently don't take Hollande's most Socialist proposals seriously. Perhaps it's assumed that Hollande understands this and was only throwing Socialists some class-warfare red meat for campaign purposes, as the French love the idea of a good aristocratic guillotining. If it turns out that he was actually serious in his proposals, it can only be hoped that he'll spend most of his first term on a golf course somewhere, or hiking the Alps.
So what made the French veer left at a time when Europe is largely veering right? A vote for Hollande was not a vote for socialism, but rather a manifestation of frustration with the current state of affairs. An Ipsos poll conducted on election day found that 55 percent of Hollande voters elected him to "stop Sarkozy from being re-elected," versus 45 percent who "wanted (Hollande) to be president." Only 46 percent of Sarkozy's voters supported him for the purpose of keeping Hollande out.
As voter income increased, the likelihood of voting for Hollande decreased, suggesting that some voters don't understand the trickle-down repercussions of business owners leaving and taking private-sector jobs with them -- particularly in a country that really can't afford to increase the state payroll, with 56 percent of the country's GDP already going toward maintain public spending.
Let's hope Hollande is intelligent and self-aware enough to realize that a 3 percent victory margin in the election he just won is primarily due to the fact that he is not Sarkozy. It's not a resounding mandate in favor of socialism, but rather a mass plea for thoughtful and pragmatic stewardship. If he understands this, then may end up doing all right. If not, he can be sure the French will be ready with the guillotine -- as they always are.
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