Two points stand out after watching via iPlayer Stephen Sackur’s interview with Marine le Pen, leader of the French Front National, for the BBC’s Hardtalk.
- Ms le Pen proposes to repeal laws that restrict the Banque de France lending to the government at low interest rates, removing her country from international financial markets. The same financial markets that have forced eurozone leaders to accept that they saved too little in the good times and spent too much in the bad and enact policies to bring their fiscal policies to more sustainable levels. In short, she proposes opening the door to massive government deficits that ultimately come at the expense of the people who are forced to pay the money back through taxes or, as is more likely, through having their spending power reduced by inflation.
- The French economy certainly suffers from being uncompetitive on the global stage and Ms le Pen is correct that some of that is as a result of being unable to devalue the currency in much the same way the United Kingdom did during 2008 – 09. Yet uncompetitiveness would persist under her leadership even in France returned to the franc – the country’s would-be president denied categorically that France is harmed by its restrictive labour laws, including collective bargaining agreements that are imposed on third parties and the minimum wage, which serve to push up relative labour costs and actively contribute to the country’s declining competitiveness.
The Front National are not short on policies and rhetoric that should make them unelectable even discounting their apparent economic illiteracy – the people of France should take note.