Howard Davies - more of the same with Sarkozy?

After the 'premier tour' in France, Sarko is clearly in Pole position. (He's Hungarian really, but you catch my drift). And the initial reaction has focused on the idea that the French have voted for change in economic policy, for a man who understands the market economy, and who admires the Thatcher/Blair reforms in the UK.

Last Updated: 31 Aug 2010

I wonder. Sarkozy's pronouncements on economic policy through the campaign have not been markedly liberal.  He has made no firm commitments on reforming the 35-hour week, or the extravagantly generous unemployment benefits which are at the heart of France's labour market problem. He has instead regularly criticised the European Central Bank, and appears to think that a cut in interest rates, and in the exchange rate, can stimulate the economy without inflationary risks. And he is as much a protectionist, and a supporter of national champions as is Chirac.

The need now to fend off the remaining challenge from Ségolène Royal is hardly likely to push him in a more radical direction - rather the reverse. So even though it now looks odds-on for President Sarkozy, that may not lead to significant reform. And that is the prospect even before the French decide to vote in a left majority at the next legislative elections, to provide a check and balance for their rightist president - which would not surprise me at all.


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