What exciting times we live in! Due to a curious set of circumstances which involved Sarkozy making himself as unloved as possible by as many people as possible over the course of the last five years M. Hollande now gets the chance to try running the country for a few years.
We wish him bonne chance and bon courage. He will need them both.
It should be noted that while Sarkozy spent his election campaign promising us all more austerity, Hollande spent his time promising us an increase in the minimum wage, a reduction in the retirement age and a substantial increase in the number of state employees (60 000 new teachers).
Perhaps not unexpectedly people were more tempted by the second choice. The only surprise is that it was such a close thing.
Of course dreary talk about who is paying for all this largesse was rather swept under the carpet, although I imagine London can expect a rather large influx of wealthy French people on the run from excessive taxation over the next few months, as investment bankers and captains of industry might prefer to avoid the new 75% income tax rates.
The socialists also proposed a rule that says that the highest paid person in a company can only be paid 20 times as much as the lowest paid person – so either bosses would have have to see their pay slashed by up to 80% – or they will have to start paying their cleaning staff about 200 000 euros a year.
Of all the jobs I wouldn’t want to have, being a President or Prime Minister rates among the top few and it’s a mystery to me why someone so (apparently) mild-mannered as Hollande would want the job.
Within a few months he will surely have disappointed a very large number of poor people who expected to become much richer, and rich people who will have become much poorer, and I imagine a good number of cars will be set on fire in the suburbs, the traditional French way to express disappointment.
Alternatively of course he might just give everyone whatever they want in order to stay popular for a little longer.
Whatever happens, I’m pleased to say that new taxes on the super rich are unlikely to affect us personally any day soon so it looks like we can happily stay where we are and watch events unfold from here.