What is the political context of the Eurozone crisis period in France? Have there been changes in government, elections, referenda or other major political events during the period of 2008-present?
Elected on May 6, 2007, President Nicolas Sarkozy’s right wing party “UMP” could rely on a center and right-wing coalition majority in both Houses of Parliament until September 2011, when partial elections took place in the Senate. These elections resulted in a majority shift in the Senate, benefiting a left, far left and greens coalition led by current President François Hollande’s left party “PS”. The PS and its allies subsequently won the Presidential elections (May 6, 2012), and the Legislative elections at the National Assembly (Assemblée Nationale, June 17, 2012).
The ratification of the Fiscal Compact was arguably the first of the Euro-zone crisis instruments to be politicized on a large scale, with a notable and mediatized opposition between the two main parties of the political spectrum: the UMP and the PS. It became one of the political issues of the presidential elections. As a candidate to the Presidency of the Republic, François Hollande promised that if he were elected, he would renegotiate the Fiscal Compact and introduce a growth and employment dimension in the European anti-crisis instruments design. After the victory of François Hollande, the Fiscal Compact was ratified but reinterpreted in terms allowing for the vote of an organic law instead of the Constitutional amendment sought after by former President Sarkozy. (See also question 53). However, the fact that the Treaty was eventually signed prompted the opposition of the far left.
The idea to enshrine a “Golden Rule” limiting budgetary deficits had already been supported by President Sarkozy before the debates on the Fiscal Compact. In March 2011, his government already proposed such a constitutional amendment. However, it lacked the parliamentary majority necessary on the basis of Article 89 Constitution for the final adoption of the amendment (3/5th of both Houses of Parliament gathered in Congress) (see also question III.2). The right-wing government had then envisaged to by-pass the Congress and pass the amendment through referendum, were Nicolas Sarkozy re-elected.