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Europe, France

Economists dismiss claims Melenchon’s radical programme is ‘unrealistic’

Thirty five French economists have signed a joint statement backing Jean Luc Melenchon’s programme.

In the statement, the economists from Bordeaux IV University, People’s University of Caen, Lille-I,-Paris XIII, Paris I, Toulouse Toulouse I and II, Paris School of Economics and IEP Paris among other universities, dismiss claims by rivals and large sections of the media that the programme of the radical left Presidential candidate is ‘unrealistic’.

Recession-austerity-spiral ‘unrealistic’

They argue that it is instead ‘unrealistic to continue in the recession-austerity-spiral plunging Europe into chaos and unemployment.’

The programme of Melenchon, the candidate of the Left Front (Front de Gauche) alliance between the Left Party, The French Communist Party and other radical left groups, ‘contains a real coherence’.

First ‘by raising the minimum wage to €1,700 gross, boosting minimum welfare payments, providing a full pension at age 60  and by developing public services it ‘will create the impetus to overcome the fiscal and wage austerity’. This will also ‘save small and medium sized companies asphyxiated by the stagnation of domestic demand, the dominance of large companies and credit rationing’, the economists argue.

Towards a model of quality growth

Second, it will start reorientating the economy towards a model of ‘quality growth’. The reduction of working time will allow the creation hundreds of thousands of jobs, while it will cut precarious employment, reduce inequalities, especially between men and women, and ‘promote another conception of well-being.’

The Left Front, it points out, aims to refocus bank credit on projects that create green jobs, training and research. This will be encouraged via a financial ‘pole’ that will combine existing public financial institutions with cooperative networks and other sources of finance that will be ‘socialised’.

The economists also back Melenchon’s proposals for a ‘ radical redefinition of the status, mission and objectives of the European Central Bank’.

‘States are obliged to borrow in the markets, which significantly increases the cost of debt. This is the result of a deliberate policy by governments and European institutions that voluntarily place themselves under the control of markets.

No progressive policy is possible if the markets dictate 

‘No progressive policy is possible if the markets continue to dictate the law. That is why the ECB and national central banks must be able, under democratic control, to finance public deficits and buy government securities on the secondary market.

The economists say this does not require any treaty change: ‘The €1,000 billion that the ECB is lending to private banks without compensation demonstrates the magnitude of what we can do if we regain control over finance.’

The 35 economists argue that a European Development Fund funded in part by the ECB and by a tax on financial transactions will, together with the mobilization of people’s savings, provide sufficient public investment to ‘completely change’ the prevailing economic model while a citizens’ audit of debt will ‘determine the conditions of repayment.’

Other novelties in the Melenchon programme that will tackle what today’s lethal recession-austerity-spiral are:

  • A range of tax measures (capping income, greater progressivity in income tax, elimination of tax loopholes) and regulations (taxation of capital movements, separation of deposit and investment banks and removal of stock options, ban on speculative financial products)
  • New economic powers for employees within companies to suspend or veto layoffs

Finally, through a ‘coherent economic, social and ecological programme’ that includes a substantial redistribution of  wealth, curtails the powers of the banks and gives government  back control over financial markets, the French people will be able to freely cast their votes in elections without the constant threat of having to implement policies favoured by banks and other international bondholders and shareholders, the economists argue.

The first round of France’s Presidential election is to due to be held Sunday April 22.


Check out the full programme here

About revoltingeurope

Writer on Europe's Left, trade union and social movements @tomgilltweets or email [email protected]


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