- Created: Wednesday, 05 April 2017 15:44
- Written by Séamus Padraic
The French economy is not recovering well from the crash of 2007/8, especially compared to its major European partner, Germany. The French economy only grew by 1.1% in 2016, compared to Germany’s 1.9%. Since the introduction of the Euro in 1999, the profitability of French capital has plummeted by 27%, compared to Germany’s 21% rise. Investment has therefore stagnated, leading to low productivity growth and an unemployment rate of around 10%. The French ruling class has found itself unable to rule in the old way, and so social democracy has collapsed. The Socialist Party presided over the end of France’s famously short working week (see FRFI 251, ‘France: Working class battles ruling Socialist Party’) and has struggled to contain mass unrest among black, Arab and Muslim people. The superprofits of les trentes glorieuses (the thirty ‘golden years’ after 1945) are no longer available to sustain a large labour aristocracy and so its political vehicle, the Socialist Party, is becoming historically obsolete.
Into this gap have stepped two political forces: the Front National (FN) which is drawing votes from the most reactionary elements of the labour aristocracy, and the neoliberal Emmanuel Macron, who is claiming the middle class votes that in 2012 were cast for François Hollande, now the most unpopular president in French history with a 4% approval rating.