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French Presidential Elections 2012

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lapis
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French Presidential Elections 2012 Apr. 22nd, 2012 @ 10:25 AM Reply

Voting is currently underway in France for the first round of their presidential election. If no candidate secures over 50% of the vote during the first round, there will be a second round in which the top two candidates run off against each other. The main candidates are (see also this page):

Nicolas Sarkozy, the incumbent and the leader of the main centre-right party, expected to win about 27% of the votes.
Francois Hollande, the leader of the Socialists, also expected to win about 27% of the votes.
Marine le Pen, the leader of the Nationalists, expected to win about 15%.
Jean-Luc Mélanchon, the leader of the Communists, expected to win about 13%.
Francois Bayrou, the leader of the Centrists, expected to win about 10%.

In the second round, Hollande is expected to beat Sarkozy 55% to 45%, mainly because those who support Mélanchon during the first round will back Hollande, but those who back le Pen are a lot less eager to support Sarkozy. Sarkozy has a bit of an image problem due to his extravagant lifestyle, and his "I'm good for the economy" line has lost some of its credibility after France lost its cherished AAA credit rating. Personally, I'm also not a big fan of his pandering to the far right, for example by openly stating there needs to be a debate about the French "identity".

But I find Hollande's expected success even more unsettling. Hollande has claimed he will renegotiate all EU treaties that were agreed after a painstakingly tough process last year, and has already announced he will not abide by the Stability and Growth Pact's limit of 3% on countries' budget deficits if he thinks too much austerity will be bad for "growth". He also wants the European Central Bank to assume a more "active" role in times of crisis (i.e. printing extra money), despite clear assurances made before its founding to the Germans that it would not be able to do so.

So for what kind of growth would Mr. Hollande disable the only weapons we have to keep corrupt countries like Greece in line? "Mr Hollande, for his part, has promised to raise taxes on big corporations and people earning more than 1m euros a year. He wants to raise the minimum wage, hire 60,000 more teachers and lower the retirement age from 62 to 60 for some workers". He wants to lower the retirement age in times of financial crisis! He might as well have promised all his voters a Ferrari and a blow job.

I may not be Sarkozy's biggest admirer, but Hollande is the perfect candidate to lead the whole continent into financial ruin. I really hope that after tonight's results are announced he gets wasted at a party, then drives home and when he gets pulled over by a police officer goes off on a Mel Gibson-style anti-Semitic rant in front of a live camera. Otherwise I fear that the balance of power within the EU will shift decisively towards the Southern "let everyone retire at 60 and print extra money if it leads to troubles" attitude, and a North-South split would become more and more realistic.


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Angry-Hatter
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Response to French Presidential Elections 2012 Apr. 22nd, 2012 @ 03:30 PM Reply

From the limited information I've heard about Holland as a candidate, even the short description you gave in this thread, I am completely for Holland winning.

Tightening your belt during a recession by cutting important benefits for the lower and middle class never works, it only makes the problem worse. When times are tough, that's when those programs are needed the most. The way you get out of a recession is to stimulate the economy with spending targeted at the lower and middle class workers, the consumers. When they have a little extra money in their pockets, they spend most of it buying things, whereas if the wealthy has a little extra money in their pockets, they let it sit in their bank account with the rest of their fortune until they find an investment opportunity they would have gone for anyway.

We've seen this over and over; cutting taxes and giving breaks to the wealthy doesn't generate any new jobs, so I'm very happy to hear that there's a candidate willing to break out of that vicious and stupid cycle. I just hope he doesn't turn out like Obama, who promises during his campaings to raise taxes on the wealthy, and then leaves them alone when he's in office.

As for some of the specifics you mentioned:

Raising the minimum wage. Great, this goes in line with stimulating the consumer class. An extra couple of euros in their pocket at the end of the month means that there will be an extra couple of euros spent buying groceries, restaurant food, french pastries, striped polo shirts, berets, etc.

Hiring more teachers. Cool. I don't know the situation in France, but it's known that the number of students per teacher is a great indicator of how well those students will do in their educational career. I'm all for more teachers. Even if it'll cost money in the short term, having more teachers and smaller class sizes is going to pay off in the long term.

Lowering the retirement age back down to 60. While 60 seems to me like a low retirement age, it's seems to have worked for the French so far. The age of 60 is also only for those who have worked for 41 years, so if you've worked from the age of 19 without breaking to go to College or anything like that, then you can retire at 60, otherwise it's still 62. Seems to me like it is a gift to non-college educated workers, people who have a shorter life expectancy overall, the people who are hurt the most by having the retirement age raised. Then there's the benefit of renewing the workforce; people retiring earlier will allow the younger generation a greater opportunity to enter into the workforce.

So far, so good, but there are some other things that I like about this guy's plattform:

Separation of lending and investment in the banking system. Fantastic. This is precisely what caused the financial meltdown of 2008, so I'm extremely happy that one of the largest economies in the world is going in that direction.

Withdrawing French troops from Afghanistan by the end of 2012. And not a moment too soon.

Reducing nuclear energy from 75% to 50% of France's electricity generation, replacing it with renewable energy. I would have liked it to be more than that, but it's a great start, especially from the largest nuclear power country in the world (as a percentage of total electricity generation). Hopefully, France can lead the way for reducing nuclear power and increasing renewable energy.

Gay marriage and gay adoption. Suck it, conservatives. Tide of history.

So yeah, if I were French, I'd vote for Hollande in a heartbeat. As I'm writing this, it looks like Hollande is going to win the first round of voting, with Sarkozy coming in second. The Guardian.

Here's to hoping that this will be the first of many European countries throwing their right wing governments out on their ear.


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All-American-Badass
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Response to French Presidential Elections 2012 Apr. 22nd, 2012 @ 06:45 PM Reply

At 4/22/12 03:30 PM, Angry-Hatter wrote: Reducing nuclear energy from 75% to 50% of France's electricity generation, replacing it with renewable energy. I would have liked it to be more than that, but it's a great start, especially from the largest nuclear power country in the world (as a percentage of total electricity generation). Hopefully, France can lead the way for reducing nuclear power and increasing renewable energy.

I really don't see the problem with nuclear energy, it's actually the most reliable form of clean energy currently available,
cutting a third of it for wind and solar seems to be counter-intuitive, it's not like you can shut down a third of the nuclear power plants in France and replace the area they took up with wind and solar farms and match the energy output. you'd have to cover a lot of the french country side with wind turbines to make up the loss of nuclear plants. If you're concerned about safety, the chance of something like Chernobyl or 3 mile Island happening is perhaps a million to one and since France doesn't have earthquakes at the rate or intensity you'd find in the Pacific Rim, something like Fukashima happening in France would be akin to winning the lottery, getting struck by lightning, getting mauled by a grizzly bear and a polar bear then getting struck by lightning again all in a matter of a couple hours.

Camarohusky
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Response to French Presidential Elections 2012 Apr. 22nd, 2012 @ 07:06 PM Reply

At 4/22/12 06:45 PM, All-American-Badass wrote: I really don't see the problem with nuclear energy,

I agree. Nuclear power is far from perfect, but when compared to the other main forms of power production it is much more a solution than the problem. Instead of throwing money and time at stopping nuclear power, I say stop coal, gas, and oil first.

lapis
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Response to French Presidential Elections 2012 Apr. 23rd, 2012 @ 03:03 PM Reply

At 4/22/12 03:30 PM, Angry-Hatter wrote: Tightening your belt during a recession by cutting important benefits for the lower and middle class never works, it only makes the problem worse. When times are tough, that's when those programs are needed the most.

True, but then you should have saved during the good times. The problem is that most European countries ran deficits when they should have been saving. Furthermore, the continent is plagued by structural problems like an increasing number of pensioners and peak oil-related problems, making it much harder to "grow" one's way out of the crisis. This makes it necessary to cut spending, or to at least raise taxes.

cutting taxes and giving breaks to the wealthy

Okay, but I don't think Sarkozy's running on such a platform.

Raising the minimum wage.

Rising unemployment is a major issue in France's elections currently, and raising the minimum wage is only going to raise the bar for those who are considering hiring a low-salary worker. While it may on the short term put some money into the pockets of those who already have a job and can't be fired by their employers, there are also clear negative long-term consequences.

Lowering the retirement age back down to 60. While 60 seems to me like a low retirement age, it's seems to have worked for the French so far.

If it was working so well for them, their credit rating wouldn't have been downgraded.

Then there's the benefit of renewing the workforce; people retiring earlier will allow the younger generation a greater opportunity to enter into the workforce.

Yeah, I don't know; especially in industries like construction, the jobs that 60-year-olds do tend to be fundamentally different from the jobs that 19-year olds do. Raising the pension age is often a cost-cutting measure; instead of having to pay someone a pension, you pay him lower unemployment benefits. A time of crisis is not the moment to undo these cost cuts.

Separation of lending and investment in the banking system. Fantastic. This is precisely what caused the financial meltdown of 2008, so I'm extremely happy that one of the largest economies in the world is going in that direction.

Okay, but if implemented globally, this would sharply reduce the amount of money going around in the world's financial system, driving up interest rates, and worsening the misery of countries like Spain and Italy that are struggling to cope with their interest payments.

Reducing nuclear energy from 75% to 50% of France's electricity generation, replacing it with renewable energy.

I'm not completely in favour of building new nuclear plants, but I really don't see the merit in discontinuing existing plants. I mean, the construction costs have been paid for anyway.

Here's to hoping that this will be the first of many European countries throwing their right wing governments out on their ear.

Eh. I'd like to say the same, but only if there are left-wing candidates to replace them.


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Korriken
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Response to French Presidential Elections 2012 Apr. 23rd, 2012 @ 05:09 PM Reply

He'll be a 1 termer. he'll get in, fuck everything up to the point his PR machine won't be able to pull him out of the hole he digs for himself... that is, of course, unless those running against his reelection campaign are an even bigger joke than himself.

A lot like a certain other president we hear a lot about...


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Camarohusky
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Response to French Presidential Elections 2012 Apr. 23rd, 2012 @ 06:38 PM Reply

At 4/23/12 05:09 PM, Korriken wrote: A lot like a certain other president we hear a lot about...

But Harper's lasted more than one term.

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Response to French Presidential Elections 2012 Apr. 23rd, 2012 @ 07:47 PM Reply

At 4/23/12 05:09 PM, Korriken wrote: He'll be a 1 termer. he'll get in, fuck everything up to the point his PR machine won't be able to pull him out of the hole he digs for himself... that is, of course, unless those running against his reelection campaign are an even bigger joke than himself.

A lot like a certain other president we hear a lot about...

Are you saying this because you heard he was part of the Socialist party or because you know what his policies are and the situation in France?


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Angry-Hatter
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Response to French Presidential Elections 2012 Apr. 24th, 2012 @ 12:17 AM Reply

At 4/23/12 03:03 PM, lapis wrote:
At 4/22/12 03:30 PM, Angry-Hatter wrote: cutting taxes and giving breaks to the wealthy
Okay, but I don't think Sarkozy's running on such a platform.

Perhaps not. He's at least not arguing for any tax increases on the wealthy, and he did push through some major tax cuts in 2007 right after he took office that mostly benefitted the wealthy (tax cuts which Hollande has promised to roll back if he is elected).

Raising the minimum wage.
Rising unemployment is a major issue in France's elections currently, and raising the minimum wage is only going to raise the bar for those who are considering hiring a low-salary worker. While it may on the short term put some money into the pockets of those who already have a job and can't be fired by their employers, there are also clear negative long-term consequences.

I don't think so. It's all connected; more money in the pockets of the consumer class will lead to more business for retail stores and such, which in turn will lead to an increased demand for consumer products, which will lead to an increased demand for labor both for producing those products and selling them, which leads to jobs, which leads to more money in the pockets of the consumer class, and the cycle starts over.

Really, the most effective way of stimulating the economy is not to give breaks to the producers, but to give breaks to the consumers.

Lowering the retirement age back down to 60. While 60 seems to me like a low retirement age, it's seems to have worked for the French so far.
If it was working so well for them, their credit rating wouldn't have been downgraded.

Really? You're blaming the credit downgrade solely on the retirement age? You mean to tell me that if only the retirement age had been higher, everything else being equal, France would never have been downgraded?

Yeah, I don't know; especially in industries like construction, the jobs that 60-year-olds do tend to be fundamentally different from the jobs that 19-year olds do. Raising the pension age is often a cost-cutting measure; instead of having to pay someone a pension, you pay him lower unemployment benefits. A time of crisis is not the moment to undo these cost cuts.

That is precisely the time you need to undo those types of absurd austerity measures that should never have been implemented in the first place. Staying the course once you've made a mistake is not the way to go. In a crisis the government should spend money on relief for the lower and middle classes while you cut spending elsewhere (getting the fuck out of Afghanistan seems like a good place to start) and increase taxes on the wealthy.

Separation of lending and investment in the banking system. Fantastic. This is precisely what caused the financial meltdown of 2008, so I'm extremely happy that one of the largest economies in the world is going in that direction.
Okay, but if implemented globally, this would sharply reduce the amount of money going around in the world's financial system, driving up interest rates, and worsening the misery of countries like Spain and Italy that are struggling to cope with their interest payments.

It would also prevent the next global market collapse from happening. It would introduce more stability in the system if banks were only allowed to speculate and gamble with their own money instead of with people's savings.

Reducing nuclear energy from 75% to 50% of France's electricity generation, replacing it with renewable energy.
I'm not completely in favour of building new nuclear plants, but I really don't see the merit in discontinuing existing plants. I mean, the construction costs have been paid for anyway.

I imagine that the reduction is going to take place over the long term, with something like 2030 as the end date (just guessing). The average lifespan of a nuclear power plant is about 40-50 years, and the average age France's power plants is a little more than 20 years at this point, so they'll probably let the plants run their course and just not build any new ones until one third of them have been retired, replacing them with renewable energy sources as they go.

Here's to hoping that this will be the first of many European countries throwing their right wing governments out on their ear.
Eh. I'd like to say the same, but only if there are left-wing candidates to replace them.

You don't consider Hollande left-wing enough? I've seen that charge thrown around in some articles and online comments that I've read. I like him, from what I've read so far, and I consider myself to be a lefty. Is there anything specific you could point to that reveals his left/right leanings?


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All-American-Badass
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Response to French Presidential Elections 2012 Apr. 24th, 2012 @ 01:33 AM Reply

At 4/24/12 12:17 AM, Angry-Hatter wrote:
At 4/23/12 03:03 PM, lapis wrote: Rising unemployment is a major issue in France's elections currently, and raising the minimum wage is only going to raise the bar for those who are considering hiring a low-salary worker. While it may on the short term put some money into the pockets of those who already have a job and can't be fired by their employers, there are also clear negative long-term consequences.
I don't think so. It's all connected; more money in the pockets of the consumer class will lead to more business for retail stores and such, which in turn will lead to an increased demand for consumer products, which will lead to an increased demand for labor both for producing those products and selling them, which leads to jobs, which leads to more money in the pockets of the consumer class, and the cycle starts over.

There's something called inflation. by raising the minimum wage you're not only raising the standards for wage slave jobs, but you're also having businesses raise the prices of their products to reflect the change in value in currency. so your whole cycle thing wont happen at all under the premise of raising the minimum wage.

Okay, but if implemented globally, this would sharply reduce the amount of money going around in the world's financial system, driving up interest rates, and worsening the misery of countries like Spain and Italy that are struggling to cope with their interest payments.
It would also prevent the next global market collapse from happening. It would introduce more stability in the system if banks were only allowed to speculate and gamble with their own money instead of with people's savings.

There is absolutely no way to determine what will cause the next global market collapse so that's a moot point. Also if lapis is correct, "adding more stability into the system" will pretty much make the Euro worthless since the government would have to print more money to circulate it.

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Response to French Presidential Elections 2012 Apr. 24th, 2012 @ 01:49 AM Reply

At 4/23/12 06:38 PM, Camarohusky wrote:
At 4/23/12 05:09 PM, Korriken wrote: A lot like a certain other president we hear a lot about...
But Harper's lasted more than one term.

as a minority, and he did great with the other parties stopping him from doing all the stupid shit he is doing now. this is his first time as a majority and with all the shit hes purposed already and is rushing through unopposed we can already tell "stability" wasn't a very accurate way to describe majority governments. Also note that he hasn't passed a single high profile non authoritarian bill yet.

well I feel bad for France. I blame political parties for all of these problems, the left right left right march in USA and the vote splitting technicalities everywhere else its just a result of politicians abusing the system by unionising and convincing people that it is normal that they don't get to vote for some one who represents them.


ya hear about the guy who put his condom on backwards? He went.

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Response to French Presidential Elections 2012 Apr. 25th, 2012 @ 09:52 AM Reply

Jean Luc Picard would be the best but never mind hes British