Francois Hollande swept into power, not only with the hopes of French voters behind him, but also with the hopes of the whole of the European left.
The Euro crisis looks no nearer to being solved than a year ago. The only solution sanctioned by the European and world financial elite, lashing of austerity, is clearly not working. The European economy is bogged down and going nowhere.
The price paid by the people of Greece is terrible. Listening to Radio 4 today, poor Greek women giving birth in hospital are being bullied into paying over € 1,000, under the threat of the hospital not allowing them to have their children unless it is paid.
Both Greece and Italy have Leaders that have not been elected, but forced upon them to deliver austerity by the IMF, World bank and the Central European Bank.
The European banks are sitting on huge amounts of toxic debt. To admit the true scale of this time-bomb could sink the capital bases of the Europe banking system, bringing much needed credit grinding to a halt.
Against this backdrop Francois Hollande won the French Presidency by promising growth, higher taxes for the richest people in France and employing more teachers – instead of austerity.
A stated aim within his campaign was to renegotiate the stability pact. This pact is appalling in democratic terms, and is only fit for the dustbin. It is one of the final pieces in making a federal Europe. If a nation chooses to invest seriously in its infrastructure by running a deficit of 5% for a few years rather than a prescribed 3%, it is no-one else’s business. The budget of a nation is its own business. The trouble with the single currency is plain to see. Monetary union can’t work without fiscal union. Fiscal union is political union by default. Political union is both unwanted by the people of Europe and undemocratic. Francois Hollande needs to do more than just tab a few growth policies onto this pact – this is not enough.
The BBC’s Stephen Evans reported:
President Hollande did what it seems likely that President Nicolas Sarkozy would have done: he asserted, as one with Chancellor Angela Merkel, that (1) Greece should remain within the euro and (2) that it should adhere to the painful commitments already made.
The situation is critical in Greece, a microcosm of the every problem with the Euro. Yet Mr Hollande seems keen to maintain the ostrich stance that has totally paralysed Europe’s Leaders.
It’s early days, but I fear that pinning hopes on a Europe based on the values of people, not the markets, on Francois Hollande may well lead to disappointment.