Not Over Yet: Francois Hollande Faces National Assembly Elections

A second argument for a conservative rebound next month is that a socialist parliamentary victory would subject France to a one-party regime. The socialists and their allies would control the presidency, both houses of Parliament (the Assembly and the less consequential Senate), the government, almost all regional councils, most counties, and most big towns. They would, in line with France’s statist character, control the media, the academic sphere, and many of the most important industries even more tightly. Sarkozy declined to mention this throughout his campaign for reelection -- another mistake of his. I have noticed that Nadine Morano, a Sarkozy archloyalist and a rising conservative star, started talking about it right after Hollande’s election.

A third argument is that Marine Le Pen, the National Front leader, and François Bayrou, the centrist maverick, may have lost some of their luster. Both declined to support Sarkozy on the presidential second round. Le Pen said her voters were free to act as they wished. Bayrou said that while he would vote for Hollande, he would allow his voters to decide for themselves. That ran against the wishes of most of their respective supporters. Most National Front voters switched to Sarkozy in order to defeat Hollande at any cost; most Bayrou voters supported Sarkozy or abstained. A new conservative leader with charisma, vista, and guts could certainly get them to "vote for France" or to "vote for democracy" in June.

Hollande’s toughest challenge is to make sense of his economic platform. The new French president is a follower of Keynes: he believes in state control, high taxes, and extended welfare. The fact that the global economy has undergone massive changes since the days of Keynes and that Barack Obama failed while implementing similar policies in the United States does not deter him. What he takes seriously, however, is the European Union, which will not allow for too much state control, and the euro, which does not allow for inordinate welfare spending. He can quit the EU and the eurozone as both the Far Left and the Far Right recommend, a move that would probably bring about a "Greek effect" on the French economy. Otherwise, he can abide by European rules, thus negating his platform altogether. Since both options are beyond him, he frantically insists for a drastic "production-oriented" and "people-oriented" revision in the European and euro policies.

His European partners may listen to him to a point. He may then tell the French that in order to overcome a very dangerous situation a broader coalition or even a national unity government is needed, and that a "socialist cum allies" parliamentary victory may help.