The election in France is heating up and the race is close between four leading candidates, Les Republicains candidate François Fillon, Front National leader Marine Le Pen, center-left independent Emmanuel Macron and a far-left leaning independent Jean-Luc Mélenchon.
The idea that either Le Pen or Mélenchon could win is terrifying markets and if it came to pass would portend disaster for France.
So far Macron has only shown that he really has no idea what France needs, offering only weak gruel to voters.
Fillon has been the only candidate to offer reforms that would put France back to work, and give the French a fighting chance at competing against Germany for jobs and industry in Europe. The Wall Street Journal writes of Fillon:
He promises to balance the budget within five years, cut €100 billion ($106.72 billion) in spending, slash the corporate-tax rate to 25% from nearly 35%, end the 35-hour work week and liberalize labor laws to encourage hiring. All of this is a hard sell in France at any time, but Mr. Fillon’s credibility has been compromised by news that he put family members on the public payroll….
Mr. Hollande’s Socialists have made France the sickest of Europe’s large economies, with growth of merely 1.1% in 2016, a jobless rate above 10% for most of the past five years, and youth unemployment at nearly 25%. His predecessor Nicolas Sarkozy and the Republicans talked a good reform game but never delivered. Add the threats of Islamist terror and mass Syrian migration, and the stage is set for candidates who appeal to nativism or a cost-free welfare state. Let’s hope a French majority steps back from the political brink.
At National Review, Charles C.W. Cooke writes that American voters might find many of Fillon’s positions familiar.
On paper, Fillon was perfectly placed. He had the experience, having been prime minister under Nicolas Sarkozy, and he had the novelty value, having become the North Star of a new French conservatism that has embraced Catholicism in spite of laïcité, turned happily toward “Anglo-Saxon” free markets, and even rebranded its flagship party as “the Republicans.” In addition, he was well suited to bridge the gap between the sects in a country that remains as divided as ever — “How,” Charles de Gaulle asked, “can you govern a country that has 246 different sorts of cheese?” — but has become steadily more right-leaning as the years have gone by. Astonishingly for a French politician, Fillon is running on a platform that would be familiar to voters in the United States: Inter alia, he wants to reduce the number of civil servants, abolish France’s “wealth tax,” abolish the 35-hour work week, reform the health-care system, and raise the retirement age; and, while he has promised to protect the legal status quo, he is vocally pro-life and opposed to gay marriage.
Read more here.