Feature

Ireland: How a new French leader could save us

A Socialist win in France would be “our first stroke of luck for years.”

Shane Ross
Irish Independent

A Socialist win in France would be “our first stroke of luck for years,” said Shane Ross. François Hollande, the challenger to President Nicolas Sarkozy, has promised to renegotiate the fiscal treaty that is oppressing Ireland. Hollande wants to “loosen Germany’s manacles of austerity” so that France—and, more to my point, Ireland—would not be required by treaty to make painful cuts to social services for the poor. It was the growth-killing prospect of such cuts that brought the Dutch government down, and Spain says it can’t cut any more. Yet inexplicably, our own government leaders are lobbying for the treaty. With excruciating timing, they decided to suck up to Sarkozy and Germany’s Angela Merkel by scheduling a referendum on it for later this month. Just as other European countries became converts to the need for growth, “we became the cheerleaders for austerity.” Once Hollande wins, there will be no more “Merkozy” tandem—and no more European consensus for cuts. At that point, Irish leaders will have to pretend that they were never very enthusiastic about the treaty. It will be “no thanks to the Irish government,” but at least, with help from French voters, “Ireland could ride to salvation on the back of François’s victory.”

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