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by Jean-Paul Piérot

Moody’s And Sarkozy

Translated Friday 21 October 2011, by Isabelle Métral and reviewed by Bill Scoble

Rating agencies are not just UFOs that drop top marks to aces or noughts to dunces as they fly above States around the globe. Moody’s has just brought a new proof of this by announcing it’s going to keep France under special surveillance over the next three months and might well lower its rating. Moody’s thus gatecrashes the presidential campaign like a Scud on behalf of financial markets.

Nicolas Sarkozy immediately seized the opportunity and in a speech from Nice hammered the need for yet more austerity, which he said was the price to be paid for the euro zone crisis. This involves putting off the retiring age, reducing the budget and so cutting public services and social programs. The French president is taking undue advantage of the crisis, will use every ploy to dramatize the situation, as if he wanted to excite people’s instinctive fears in order to damp their desire for political change.

This tactic foreshadows the president-candidate’s line of argument, which his ministers and the UMP leaders take up almost verbatim, their stance being that Nicolas Sarkozy (allegedly) protected French people from the worst consequences of the European crisis and that the sacrifices demanded of labour have nothing to do with the policies pursued in France for the last five years. One can be pretty sure that this (at the very least) fanciful version will be passed around again and again in the next few months.

The Right is now weaker, its leader having lost much of his credit. But the left is not sure to win unless it proposes an alternative to the “No Future” gospel that Nicolas Sarkozy would have all French people gulp down. Being on the defensive after its historic defeat in the senatorial elections [1] the President and his government are launching a counterattack. The parliamentary debate on the budget reflects this new turn of the screw. François Fillon, the prime minister, considers taking “new measures” if growth is under the threshold of 1.5%, even though austerity, by stifling popular consumption, keeps growth down and triggers a recessive mechanism. Those UMP deputies — those who are afraid some decisions, the most revolting ones, might jeopardize their chances of being re-elected and turn their seats into ejector seats — are simply called to discipline by François Fillon who turns down any amendment that might in the least attenuate the injustice of his plan. So the complementary insurances will be taxed and workers on sick leave will get lower sick pay.

Commenting on François Fillon’s statement, François Hollande said “the government has not taken the right measures”: surely the left has more and better to say. If the right counterattacks, the left itself must be on the offensive.

Such is the ambition of the Left Front. Let us hope that it is widely shared.

[1see article 1903

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