Hollande is a Big State EUphile who may yet save the Union
A regular Slogger has pointed me at an obscure book, L’heure des choix, pour une économie politique. Francois Hollande wrote it in 1991 with fellow-author Pierre Moscovici, and nobody would give it a second look were it not for the fact that Hollande makes a remarkably prescient observation at one point.
Still mercifully to be created at some time in the future, EMU (European Monetary Union) has nevertheless been an obsessive discussion topic amongst europhile social democrats since forever. (In case you were harbouring thoughts about Hollande being a closet UKipper, forget it: he is as Leftie Superstate as they come.)
They key opinion expressed by the two authors back in 1991 was that a single currency could only work if there was, beforehand, a transfer of wealth from northern to southern Europe…in the region of 12.5%.
This is of course the way the Socialist mind works: Mr A has 2x, Mr B has only x, ergo give Mr B one of A’s x’s. Aside from Greece, it would be pretty tough to get elected on that sort of thinking in 2012; but forgetting the tramline Leftythink for a minute, charges of opportunism against Hollande on the subject of a dysfunctional eurozone would seem to be somewhat unfair. And it also bodes ill for any chance of a meeting of Parisian and Berliner minds.
So that’s good news for those of us who want rid of the EU, right? Wrong.
Hollande is far from being some sort of Old Left bogeyman: he is an admirer of Tony Blair’s Third Way (if socialism doesn’t work the first two times, dump it) and was quite happy with the reformist ‘Anglo-Saxon’ European Constitution that was rejected: in 2004 he was highly influential in persuading the Socialist Party to vote yes in the referendum.
There is a central (and vital) point I’m making here: Hollande is a bringer-together, not a divider…and he is a committed European. This morning after reviewing the 1991 book’s contents, I spoke with an influential UMP contact in Paris.
“Merkel has been bad for Europe,” he observed, “too dominant, totally inflexible, the German way is best and so forth. Hollande is more pragmatic, but he sees the EU as a vital bulwark against other large powers. His view is that Europe works best when there is a dialogue between Right and Left. A united Europe cannot work in any other way. Look what happens when German austerity is pushed to a ridiculous degree: the rise of the extremist Parties. That is not Hollande’s way.”
So the bad news is, (a) a Socialist politician has arrived with a popular policy alternative (b) he hopes to save the EU from Merkel and (c) he is your classic middle of the road europol whose belief in Le grand Projet overrides all other considerations.
I say ‘bad news’, because as a lover of liberty and diversity I want to see the European Union destroyed…at least, in its current Fascist Sprouts form. But I fancy that, with one or two lucky bounces – and more election reverses for Merkel – M. Hollande might have a chance of healing it.
To put that in context, I had a new poll relayed to me by hearsay from Athens last night: New Democracy and its new ally are on 30% of voting intentions. So don’t bank on a Greek exit just yet.
Footnote: Co-author Pierre Moscovici is now….Minister of Finance in the Hollande administration. He is reported to be in emergency talks with Wolfgang Schäuble ‘to ensure Greece stays in the eurozone’.