The Corner

François Hollande Named Worst Politician in the World

Over at the TopTens World, a website that specializes in ranking all sorts of things, French president François Hollande has earned the dubious honor of worst politician in the world. Here is the explanation given by the author of the list:

Francois Gerard Georges Nicolas Hollande is the current president of France and co-prince of Andorra. He was previously the first secretary of the French Socialist Party from 1997 to 2008. According to the latest opinion polls, only 15 per cent of French people have a positive view about Francois Hollander as French president; Unemployment has highly increased under Francois Hollande and is now at record level. He implemented changes in the tax code that have prompted many rich Frenchmen to leave the country. He is one of the most powerful proponents of socialism in Europe at a time when what Europe needs is innovation, less government spending, entrepreneurship, and growth.

That seems a fair description of the situation. While things weren’t great under Sarkozy — I am not fan of him either and never was — Hollande has brought the country to complete economic stop. Real GDP in 2013 is projected to be around €8 billion higher than it was in 2007. That’s what six years of French growth looks like. Capital formation in France, the true engine of growth, is weak when it’s not shrinking. If growth can’t come from capital formation and more intensive use of existing capital, it would have to come from an increase in labor supply or productivity. That’s unlikely, so there’s little hope that the country will start growing again soon

No doubt Hollande’s statements about how his administration was committed to soaking the rich and impose a 75 percent marginal income-tax rate earlier in his term haven’t helped. His large increases in social-security taxes, VAT rates, and the tax hikes faced by French businesses have surely increased the incentive to stay in bed rather than to work. At the very least, the French are starting to register that Hollande is to blame for the massive increase in their tax bills. According to Jean-Daniel Lévy of Harris Interactive, a poll company, in the past between 7 and 10 percent of French people said that taxes were the cause of their distrust in the president – under Hollande that number has grown to 19 percent.

But this time around, people are not just expressing displeasure with the president; they are actually doing something about it and getting their money out of the country. According to the newspaper Le Parisien, the amount of undeclared cash seized at the borders by French custom agents has increased by 500 percent in a year, and reached €103 million at the beginning of 2013. The main reason given by those fleeing with the cash? The tax increases Hollande has announced and implemented.

Meanwhile, the French public debt is increasing, and so is unemployment. When will Hollande learn that more government and more taxes aren’t the answer?



Veronique de Rugy is a senior research fellow at the Mercatus Center at George Mason University.

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