The Joplin Globe
France is now in the throes of a runoff presidential election. The debate question there mirrors the one in the United States.
How do we fix the economy?
Socialist Party candidate Francois Hollande is leading in recent polls against the incumbent President Nicolas Sarkozy. It seems that it will be a close election with much at stake in the outcome.
France is deep in debt. Sarkozy, over the past few years, has tried to put France on a program of austerity in government spending to reduce deficits and debt. He and German Chancellor Merkel have encouraged such austerity measures in smaller countries in the European Union.
The Socialist Party wants to relieve the pressure on French citizens resulting from reduced government spending. It is the same story we hear today in America; continue high levels of spending and accumulation of debt until growth in the larger economy is restored.
The broader implications from the French election will be on the larger European Union and the euro, the currency of exchange within that union. If France retreats from reductions in spending it will become increasingly difficult to try to impose such austerity on Greece, Spain, Italy, Portugal and Ireland.
If France backs away from demanding conservative financial accounting measures, Germany will come under greater pressure to prop up the euro and European Union. Germans have already indicated their unwillingness to do so.
An alternative for Germany is located far to the east — Russia. Russia has vast reserves of energy and Germany has state-of-the-art technology. Such provides an economic axis for mutual interests. When economic interests begin to form, geopolitical interests are usually not too far behind.
Huge economic pressures, driven primarily by overspending and debt, are causing a rise in national sentiments and a division in the European Union — for now along economic lines.
It requires tremendous leadership to look beyond the economic interests of today to wisely plan for the future. In that sense, we see great similarity between our coming election in November 2012 and the upcoming French presidential election.