Conrad Black provides a thumbnail sketch of the first round of the French presidential election:
There are five principal candidates, arrayed very symmetrically, from right to left: The reactionary anti-Europe and anti-immigration National Front’s Marine Le Pen, espousing petit bourgeois know-nothingism, though less rancorously than her father, the party’s founder, did. Next on the ideological compass is the centre-right Gaullist Sarkozy, who believes in the omnipotent French state of Richelieu, Colbert and Napoleon. He has lengthened the work week and boosted the retirement age. He has also raised taxes, and now wants to impose a heavy exit tax, as the wealthy French are again fleeing the country, as they often have before. The French call Sarkozy “the water-bug” and “President Bling-bling” because of his frenetic behaviour and garish tastes.
Then there is the radical centrist Francois Bayrou, who doesn’t really have a party, and departs his farm every five years to take 10%-12% of the presidential vote for a median platform of moderate tax increases and spending reductions.
Moving to the left, there is M. Hollande, who casually repeats: “I don’t like the rich,” and wants to raise their taxes to 90%.
The piece de resistance in every respect is Jean-Luc Melenchon, leader of the Leftist Bloc, a coalition of Trotskyites, orthodox Communists, dissident socialists, militant environmentalists, vegetarians, nudists and anarchists. Melenchon wants a 100% tax on incomes above 360,000 euros a year, a 20% increase in the minimum wage, and the inability of any profitable company to lay off anyone.