France and Greece held national elections last Sunday. The French ousted pro-austerity President Nicolas Sarkozy in favor of Socialist Francois Hollande, who has vowed to pull French troops from Afghanistan, increase government spending, including a 75% income tax on the rich, and renegotiation of a European treaty on trimming budgets to prevent a Greek like debt crises.
Meanwhile in Greece, the voters ousted the current government and by extension the European Union negotiated bailout. Do these two results mean the death of austerity within Europe?
Austerity isn’t liable to win any popularity contests—anywhere. Certainly not in Greece where people are committing suicide because the cuts have left thousands of people without jobs, pensions, and livelihoods. In France, they also see a troubled economy that has muddled through austerity measures. If an economy struggles through austerity, than more spending must be the way out right? Add Sarkozy’s personal unpopularity and we may be able to explain these results.
Ultimately, I believe austerity is the proper way forward, but as I am not French or Greek, so I didn’t get a vote.