Nicholas Sarkozy was among the first to complain after the financial crisis that there was no return to business as usual. An article in the last The Economist features a very interesting figure where the results of a poll with two questions is displayed.
The questions are: 1. "Government should play a more active role in owning or directly controlling major industries"; and 2. "Capitalism is fatally flawed and a different economic system is needed".
The SAAB and SAS situations in Sweden are partly involving this reasoning but I have so far not seen any discussion in the main media as to whether capitalism should be replaced and in this case to what.
France stands out with 56% on 1. and 42% on 2. Germany which is supposed to be the other half of Europe's engine think quite differently with 30% on 1. and only 8% on 2. Britain and the US have about the same, ie, 20% on each question. The poll was taken between July and September 2009.
Does this mean that France is half way out into something else and how is the discussions actually possible between Sarkozy and Merkel who actually spent some time on their own before meeting with the other chiefs of state today in Brussels? It is interesting in this context that Sarkozy have been influencing Herman van Rompuy to enter into a new debate on an economic government for Europe which was supposed to be discussed today. Britain and Germany are apparently not enthused because it would limit their freedom.
It is apparently enough with 20-30% on question 1. for governments to acquire car companies but what is going on in France with 56%? France is fairly high on environmental interest, 10% think it is very important, they are energy independent with some 75% nuclear energy, are they entering into a serious debate on sustainable non-growth economics?
From recent reading it seem like Germany is entering into a growth economy where they will develop East Europe and Russia. Germany and Russia might become like the US and China. This was the view given by Joschka Fischer a former foreign minister of Germany and a member of the Green Party. He seemed to indicate that France was not into his German-Polish-Russian axis.
With Britain in their economy which is heavily tied to that of the US and their "special relationship", their pending joint attack on Marjah, Afghanistan, and the US on the way to Asia, where does this leave France? I have to repeat that, half of the French think it is time to replace capitalism! Probably mostly the socialists which traditionally have been left-of-Lenin in Europe.
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