France elections: Expert says ‘anything is possible in 2022’
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French voters will elect a new president in April and political candidates are vying for support already. The incumbent French leader has yet to declare his intention to run in the race, but he is expected to run. An outside candidate yet to declare his intention to run has surged in recent polls – in some even beating out Emmanuel Macron’s biggest competitor Marine Le Pen.
Emmanuel Macron has suffered a blow for his re-election hopes after the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) issued a brutal warning about public sector pay and work hours ahead of the 2022 election.
The OECD said France must raise its pension age and cut public sector pay to rebalance its post-Covid economy and avoid a debt crisis.
State benefits are an extremely sensitive and contentious issue across France – with changes often prompting street protests.
President Macron will be aware of this and will therefore be cautious to rollout such measures just a few months before voters head to the polls.
The OECD said: “Significant efforts will be required to stabilise France’s public debt at close to 120 percent of GDP in 2060.”
Steps need to be taken to offset the costs of the nation’s ageing population, it said.
It added: “The debt-to-GDP ratio will remain close to 120 percent of GDP and could rise to close to 150 percent of GDP in 2060 if the rise in interest rates proves greater than projected.
“That would threaten the viability of the public finances.”
Debt levels in France currently stand at 115 percent of its GDP, which compares to almost 160 percent in Italy.
French workers can start drawing a state pension from the age of 62 meaning they typically contribute for roughly 33 years – but can expect to live for 26 years during retirement.
France spends 14 percent of GDP on public pensions, compared with 10.2 percent in Germany.
Decisions on public sector pay, pensions and the state pension age could prove hugely impactful at the polls.
However, currently, Emmanuel Macron and the far-right candidate Marine Le Pen are leading in the latest polls.
President Macron has yet to declare his candidacy but is expected to run again.
Ms Le Pen has already launched her campaign, alongside socialist candidate Anne Hidalgo, Green contender Yannick Jadot and a centre-right Les Républicains candidate, who will be chosen on December 4.
Far-right TV commentator Éric Zemmour is also expected to pitch his hat into the race with an outsider bid – his running would split the far-right vote which would normally back Ms Le Pen – and could jeopardise her chances of making it to the second round.
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The opinion polling on voting intention for the France election shows Mr Macron is ahead of the pack, polling at 24 percent, according to Politico’s poll aggregator.
Ms Le Pen and her chief far-right rival Mr Zemmour are both polling at 16 percent.
The Hauts-de-France President Xavier Bertrand is in third place at 13 percent.
Four percentage points behind is the National Assembly candidate Jean-Luc Mélenchon.
Mr Jadot is next, according to the Politico poll aggregator at eight percent.
Ms Hidalgo is on four percent, followed by Arnaud Montebourg, the former minister of industrial renewal, on two percent.
The remaining candidates stand as follows:
- Fabien Roussel, Communist Party: Two percent
- Nicolas Dupont-Aignan, Debout la France: One percent
- Philippe Poutou, far-left trade unionist: One percent
- Nathalie Arthaud, Lutte Ouvrière (Worker’s Struggle): One percent
- Florian Philippot, Europe of Nations and Freedom: One percent
- Jean Lassalle, independent: One percent
- Jean-Christophe Lagarde, Union of Democrats and Independents: Zero percent.
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