Hollande gets a drubbing in French municipal elections

Paris elected its first female mayor on Sunday night, but the victory for socialist Anne Hidalgo was “an isolated piece of good news” for President François Hollande, says Kim Willsher in The Guardian. His Socialist Party took a drubbing in municipal elections, losing 175 cities and towns.

Although the centre-right Union pour un Mouvement Populaire (UMP) was the biggest winner, the far-right National Front took 11 towns, beating its previous late 1990s record of four.

With the economy “sluggish, unemployment soaring and presidential approval at a record low”, a loss of support was to be expected, says The Independent. But record low turnout (63.5%) and some “nasty surprises” indicate unusually high voter disaffection.

Across France, the National Front won only 6% of the vote, and remains as “shambolic and unprofessional” as ever. Even so, Marine Le Pen’s progress “cannot be easily dismissed”.

She is more credible than her father and the rise of the far right is mirrored across Europe as “economic inequalities and concerns at a perceived loss of identity leave voters tempted by extremes”. She has “distanced herself” from her father’s racism and focused on “bread-and-butter issues”, agrees PhilippeMarliere in The Guardian.

She is critical of globalisation and finance and wants to leave the eurozone and the European Union. “In short, she has reinvented herself as a politician on the side of ‘ordinary folks’.

Hollande, meanwhile, is “dramatically unpopular”, derided as the ‘president of the rich’, a “socialist who cuts taxes on the wealthy while raising VAT for all”. He has stuck to Nicolas Sarkozy’s austerity policies, even as unemployment and public debt have soared.

For all the company tax rebates, the economy is not growing. Having broken his campaign promises, Hollande is now “widely regarded as the supine ally of big business and Angela Merkel”.

In response, he has sacked his prime minister, Jean-Marc Ayrault, and appointed a replacement, Manuel Valls, known for his hardline stance on immigration. It is a calculated risk, says Hugh Carnegy in the Financial Times.

Valls is a “highly divisive” Blairite figure for the Left. In an article he wrote for the FT in 2009, he said there was “no longer an alternative to the capitalist system and market economy” and dismissed the term “socialist” as outdated.

Hollande will hope that his “public popularity, tough reputation and strong communications” will outweigh party suspicions. Valls himself was at pains to identify himself as a socialist this week, declaring himself ready to “respond to demands for social justice”. Expect more of the same.


Claim 12 issues of MoneyWeek (plus much more) for just £12!

Let MoneyWeek show you how to profit, whatever the outcome of the upcoming general election.

Start your no-obligation trial today and get up to speed on:

  • The latest shifts in the economy…
  • The ongoing Brexit negotiations…
  • The new tax rules…
  • Trump’s protectionist policies…

Plus lots more.

We’ll show you what it all means for your money.

Plus, the moment you begin your trial, we’ll rush you over THREE free investment reports:

‘How to escape the most hated tax in Britain’: Inheritance tax hits many unsuspecting families. Our report tells how to pass on up to £2m of your money to your family without the taxman getting a look in.

‘How to profit from a Trump presidency’: The election of Donald Trump was a watershed moment for the US economy. This report details the sectors our analysts think will boom from Trump’s premiership, and gives specific investments you can buy to profit.

‘Best shares to watch in 2017’: Includes the transcript from our roundtable panel of investment professionals – and 12 tips they’re currently tipping. The report also analyses key assets, including property, oil and the countries whose stock markets currently offer the most value.