French elections: Le Pen will not be another Meloni | Opinion

French elections: Le Pen will not be another Meloni | Opinion
French elections: Le Pen will not be another Meloni | Opinion

Jordan Bardella has already said he will delay the most expensive measures in his programme if he becomes prime minister. But Marine Le Pen’s protégé will not renege on all his party’s promises. And the new government’s inability, or unwillingness, to tackle France’s fiscal problems could trigger a serious reckoning in the markets when it presents its first budget in October.

An absolute majority for the National Rally (RN) is only one of two possible scenarios; the other is an undecided parliament. …

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Jordan Bardella has already said he will delay the most expensive measures in his programme if he becomes prime minister. But Marine Le Pen’s protégé will not renege on all his party’s promises. And the new government’s inability, or unwillingness, to tackle France’s fiscal problems could trigger a serious reckoning in the markets when it presents its first budget in October.

An absolute majority for the National Rally (RN) is only one of two possible scenarios; the other is a hung parliament. The markets have not yet panicked, although the French stock market has fallen by 6% since the European elections, compared with 2% for the Stoxx Europe 600. But the traders They seem to hope that if Bardella becomes prime minister, he will opt for a moderate path like the one Giorgia Meloni seems to be following in Italy. This is an illusion, for three reasons.

The first is that, although Bardella has said he would take his time to implement his proposals, the ones he wants to announce this summer are expensive. Cutting VAT on electricity and fuel would cost more than €11 billion a year, according to the Institut Montaigne. That would offset the €10 billion in spending cuts planned by Emmanuel Macron this year, and would add to a deficit that has already jumped to more than 5% of GDP.

Bardella would also have a hard time holding office in Italy, because her party has never had any responsibility at national level. Meloni was a minister under Silvio Berlusconi and her administration is staffed by experienced politicians. RN has no former ministers in its ranks, and could only rely on the resigned compliance of senior officials. Even Bardella’s prudence will not be a substitute for experience. The French economy is weak, with potential growth estimated by the IMF at 1.3% in the medium term. In addition, it is subject to an “excessive deficit” procedure by the EU.

Finally, Bardella would have to govern within the tight timeframe of the electoral calendar. The presidential election is scheduled for 2027, and Macron can call another early legislative election within a year. Bardella would have to act quickly to show that his party’s promises to cut income tax, increase welfare and nationalise motorways are not just for the gullible. Acting cautiously would disappoint voters. But acting decisively could upset the markets.

The authors are columnists for Reuters Breakingviews. The opinions are his own. The translation, by Carlos Gomez Downis the responsibility of Five days

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