Would laissez-faire be gaining more ground in France?

After the victory unforecast by pollsters of former Prime Minister François Fillon at the primary of the right and the center, another Prime Minister, Manuel Valls, this one from the left, has declared himself candidate in the Presidential election 2017. If the former is often described as an “outright liberal” if not an “ultra-liberal” by his opponents, the second would be his equivalent on the other side of the political field.

The fact that the incumbent President Francois Hollande finally chose to not run for his reelection while tenors such as former Prime Minister Alain Juppé and former President Nicolas Sarkozy got out of race earlier than expected has confirmed the ongoing dynamics of French politics’ reconfiguration. Such dynamics seem to be driven by a more liberal viewpoint on economic issues that seems to appeal to a growing proportion of the French people who are aware that their country suffers, in part, from a certain inability to reform and adapt to globalization.

Unlocking business potential, encouraging initiative and simplifying regulation have become priorities that a significant portion of the French labor force now adheres to, without thereby converting to what it describes as Anglo-Saxon ultra-liberalism. In France, where public spending and government deficit accounted for 54.6% and 3.9% of GDP respectively in 2014, the breakthrough of candidates like Fillon or Valls could mean the beginning of a fundamental shift in the French economy. On the political battlefield, their main opponent will be Marine Le Pen, a strong advocate for a “strategic and voluntarist action by a strong State.”