From Philippe Marlière, Professor of French and European politics at London’s University College, on the pseudo-socialism of the French president:
The Socialist president has not opposed the EU-inspired austerity programmes that are strangling the economies of Greece, Ireland, Italy, Portugal and Spain. Worse, he has implicitly endorsed them by sending an unprecedented, thinly veiled warning to Greek voters days before the dramatic rerun of the general elections. He hinted that if Greeks insisted on casting their votes in favour of Syriza, a leftwing “anti-austerity” coalition, it could cost them Greece’s participation in the eurozone.
On 9 August, France’s constitutional council ruled that the adoption of the EU fiscal compact did not require a change to the constitution. This would have necessitated the support of three-fifths of MPs; an unachievable majority. Instead, the treaty will enter into force if the government passes an “organic law” by a simple majority. Hollande said there would be no referendum on the new treaty – he is afraid of losing it.
This denial of democracy has infuriated the left. Many argue that the pact allows Brussels to dictate national policy by allowing it to impose sanctions on countries that fail to respect a structural deficit ceiling of 0.5% of GDP. The diktat will restrict all governments’ room for manoeuvre in the foreseeable future. What is more, it dramatically undermines parliament’s powers to pass laws as it sees fit for the country. When the French return from their summer holidays, they can only hope for further spending cuts (€33bn in 2012-14) and tax rises to meet Hollande’s 3% deficit targets by the end of 2013.
Hollande has chosen to stay the course of the punitive austerity policies that are ruining European countries. Mr Normal has quietly taken to the neoliberal sea – and he makes no waves.