France’s election of Macron was an accident due to the right’s Francois Fillon imploding because he was so skint that he had to invent a government job for his wife. Macron by contrast married a wealthy woman 23 years his senior who, as a drama teacher, doubtless proved invaluable in training him to put across the vacuous Blairide slogans on which he rode to office.
Islamic immigration was the main feature that distinguished him from Marie Le Pen but now in office he is ready to implement his other polices, such as they are.
France boasts the highest share of government in the OECD at 57 per cent and the trajectory of bigger government has shown little modification over the years in spite of the alleged “centre-left, centre right” oscillation of parties in power.
Portrayed as a reformist version of Hollande, Macron shows no determination to address the cancer of big government that is undermining the French economy. He may push back on some of the senseless policies like the ludicrous “right to disconnect” from work emails after hours, a right put in place to avoid “burnout” and the health impact of “info-obesity” stemming from the 35 hour week introduced almost two decades ago.
Macron has a €50 billion expansion plan covering energy and environment, transport, education and all the other baubles recently christened as justifying “good debt”. Offsetting this he claims €60 billion in savings but the flimsy nature of these is illustrated in a €10 billion saving from lower unemployment benefits, resulting from – wait for it – lowering the unemployment rate from 10 per cent (24 per cent for youths) to 7.2 per cent
One reform the ALP could learn from is his intention to reduce the corporate tax rate from 33 per cent to the European average of 25.
Energy employment is something Macron sees as being a clear winner. In a Trump taunting video in February, he said he’d open the doors of France to all the entrepreneurs, researchers and public policy drones in the climate change space.
He has followed this up by appointing a green activist TV star, Nicolas Hulot, as his energy and environment minister. Hulot, in accepting the post said, “”I think, although I am not sure, that the new political situation offers an opportunity for action”. A devotee of windmills, he is also anti-nuclear (which supplies 75 per cent of France’s electricity) though claims that abandoning nuclear is only “a medium term target”.
Doubtless wind farm and solar subsidies will be part of the drive to solve unemployment – replacing nuclear power stations with more labour-intensive wind and solar has to be a winner – what could go wrong? Plenty as we have seen with Rudd/ Gillard and as careful assessments of the offsetting impacts of such policies have demonstrated in Spain and Germany. The sad decline of the French economy seems destined to continue.
Post Script: in contrast to the French welcoming and subsidising the economy-suppressing green rent seekers, President Trump is defunding the mendicants. Scoop reports that the draft energy budget has a 70 per cent reduction in proposed 2018 spending.