Friday, April 27, 2012

French candidates' counterparts in the US - a one-to-one map

It’s Friday - a good day for a somewhat different type of post. Several readers have recently asked for a “cheat sheet” on the French political landscape. The US mass media has done a poor job in covering the French elections. Describing French politicians to a US audience is difficult due to the tremendous differences in the electoral process, the issues, the political parties, and the candidates. For example the Socialist Party is a major (“mainstream”) force in France, while it is more of a “fringe” movement in the US. Therefore one way to provide a quick (although very simplistic) picture of the current French candidates is to “map” each candidate into a US politician that is in a similar spot on the political spectrum. Clearly there are multiple ways to approach this and each could be debated for hours, but here is the first shot at it. Those who want more details on each of the politicians, including full backgrounds, etc., should consult Wikipedia.

To begin with, the chart below shows the first round election results of the current French candidates for presidency. This gives an indication (voter turnout varies materially for different parties) of the popular support that each politician has in France.

The results of the first round of elections in France

And here is the map. Strangely but purely coincidentally some of the countrparts look alike or would make great couples. If anything they should get to know each other because they surely have quite a bit more in common than they thought.

On a more serious note, according to BNP Paribas, the outcome of the election will impact the French inflation rate:
BNP Paribas: Inflation and purchasing power is an important theme of the French election campaign, although not as important as it was in 2007. Still, whoever wins, a number of planned economic measures will affect the inflation outlook.

President Nicolas Sarkozy has already got parliamentary approval for a VAT hike, but if he loses the election, it will be cancelled. Inflation may be less volatile short term if François Hollande wins; he is planning a temporary cap on petrol prices at the pump this summer.

Labour costs are the main issue that could impact inflation and the competitiveness of the French economy in the longer term. The outlook will vary considerably, depending on who wins the election.

Investors in inflation-linked products cannot ignore the impact of the French election, though the lack of detail in the Socialist platform makes it impossible to come up with a reliable estimate of the impact on inflation of a Socialist victory.
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