Sunday 22 October 2017

Tax gripe aside, he has moved nearer to Ireland's position

Thomas Molloy

Thomas Molloy

WHILE Irish politicians have made their distaste for another Sarkozy administration as clear as the rules of diplomacy allow, they might find his return to the Elysee Palace would not be the disaster they fear.

Mr Sarkozy's position has shifted towards Ireland's position during the elections and away from German Chancellor Angelo Merkel. In Berlin, there have been concerns over his campaign promises to use the ECB more for economic growth policies, which is considered a dangerous move by Ms Merkel.

A re-elected Sarkozy would also see his power shift in relation to Ms Merkel -- he would be secure, while she faces re-election next year, something that would shift the balance of power in his favour.

Mr Sarkozy's France is much closer to Ireland these days. Banks are still in trouble. The country's rating is crumbling and many people support parties that are not conventional constitutional parties.

A Sarkozy victory would almost certainly mean that the European core continues to pursue strict austerity policies for some time to come. Mr Sarkozy has never been as committed to austerity as Germany or the Netherlands but he decided to hitch his star to the austerity bandwagon to maintain the Franco-German alliance.

Some see this as a sign of weakness but it probably reflects Mr Sarkozy's limited wiggle room. The French economy is fragile while the German economy is strong.

The French president is no longer the figure he once was. For Ireland, a now unlikely Sarkozy victory would probably mean the odd criticism of our tax policies but it would also mean much stronger support on the CAP. With most opinion polls suggesting a Hollande win, we are unlikely to discover whether Mr Sarkozy would mellow in the years ahead.

Irish Independent

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