Economy dominates Socialist conference

More shocking news: The Socialists want to raise taxes!

The French Socialist Party’s annual conference was characterized by struggles and maneuvering amongst leadership candidates, and of course, the economy. The country recently announced austerity measures that should raise some $17 billion over the next year and a half. The Wall Street Journal reports:

“The economic reality has left the Socialist Party with little room to maneuver as it hones its economic credentials after nine years out of power. The budget deficit is forecast at 5.7% of gross domestic product this year, and economic growth is cooling, prompting the government last week to downgrade its growth estimates for this year and next. 

The leading Socialist candidates told the party faithful that they wouldn’t rush out new, large spending plans, but if elected would react by further raising taxes on the highest earners. ‘It’s a pleasure I savor at every moment to see these marches of rich people…who ask, beg, implore to be taxed more!’ said François Hollande, the front runner in surveys, referring jocularly to an appeal by some of the country’s well heeled to contribute more of their income toward the balancing of public finances. ‘I’m telling them: just wait for us, we’re coming!’

In a letter to voters, Martine Aubry, Mr. Hollande’s closest challenger among five candidates, urged higher taxes on large companies, while party secretary Harlem Désir called for higher taxes on capital gains, stock options, bonuses and ‘the super profits of banks and oil companies.'”

It’s an important question for the Socialists. They haven’t been in power since 1988, and the lean towards the left is lessening in France amidst repeated economic catastrophes within the EU.

The Guardian explained:

“With the 2012 presidential race wide open, the Socialists’ first hurdle is to find a candidate both charismatic and ruthless enough to defeat the genius of Sarkozy on the campaign trail and in the televised debates.

François Hollande, the wise-cracking, self-styled “ordinary guy” of French politics, is the early frontrunner, deploying humour and economic nous in equal measure at this weekend’s conference in La Rochelle.

A former Socialist party leader and MP in rural central France, Hollande, 57, has gone on a crash diet and smartened up his suits after splitting from his partner, the former presidential runner Ségolène Royal. Famous for his jokes – which charmed audiences at the party conference – Hollande is seen as the most presidential candidate and the most trusted on economic matters. He has an economics background and has positioned himself on the centre-left.”

Now, please. Nobody even mention that whole DSK thing.

Read more about French politics in the latest issue of the Carnet Atlantique.

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