Marine Le Pen’s victory in France risks a “dagger to the heart” for Europe
Le Pen seeks to capitalize
France’s public finances were already on fragile bases before the Covid-19. The country has been criticized by the European Commission for failing to reduce its deficit to less than 3% under the EU’s Stability and Growth Pact, and placed in an “excessive deficit procedure” until 2018 As recently as last November, Commission Vice-President Valdis Dombrovskis warned of “high sustainability issues” for his public finances.
Meanwhile, Macron, who was elected on a platform for reform, was forced to grant billions in tax cuts to appease the yellow vests (yellow vests) protesters who left Paris in flames during the ‘a campaign triggered by the increase in fuel taxes. Earlier this month, he was also forced to abandon his efforts to raise the retirement age to 64 amid controversial reforms that sparked more strikes. France spends the most of all the OECD countries on social benefits as a percentage of GDP – 31 pc – while pension expenditure is almost double the OECD average of 7.7 pc.
Le Pen has yet to reveal his hand on a detailed economic strategy, focusing on winning Islamism, immigration and border issues. But she has already pledged tax reforms to remove “unsustainable pressure” from the middle classes, and he’s unlikely to tackle an unpopular pension overhaul. Economists believe it could spend even more, explaining the nervousness of the bond market.
Jessica Hinds, French specialist at Capital Economics, says: “She’s trying to appeal to a populist base that involves things like wanting to lower fuel taxes and keeping the retirement age low enough. All of these things will be very expensive, and not just in the short term. French retirement spending is absolutely massive right now and totally unsustainable. “