Not yet registered for the newsletter service?



Forgot password? Reset it!


AB 2000 studies

Alain Boublil Blog


France : The society inequalities

The result of the 1st round of the parliamentary elections has confirmed the previous European elections ones. With 33% of the votes, the National Rally is ahead by large. Even if it is far from being certain that it obtains an absolute majority at the National Assembly despite the come over of a part of the forces from the right, its score reveals the deep evolution of the French society. According to a poll opinion by Opinion Way published in Les Echos, it would have obtained 53% of the workers votes and 38% of the employee ones. These social categories traditionally granted their votes to the left. They justify their choice by the downgrading they think they suffer, by the diminution of their purchasing power and by the worsening of their life conditions outside of the major urban areas due to the disappearance of the local public services.

France, yet, is known for its record level of public expenditures, mainly dedicated to these services and to social transfers policies. Tax rules have been partly conceived to correct inequalities generated by the economic model. French people vote choices show that these objectives are not anymore reached and the trust that traditional political parties had, is disappearing. The situation is made worse by a self-satisfaction official message founded on theoretical indicators whose evolution is far from the concerned people perception. They praise themselves about an unemployment rate which has fallen but which remains at a level twice higher than in Germany and in the United States and this ratio results much more from the demographic trend than from a reduction of the number of jobseekers which is still around three million.

It is claimed that the French people purchasing power has been protected but it is an average between a minority employed in services to enterprises, in all kinds of advising jobs and in the top management of the big groups which have obtained substantial pay rises, and the large majority of employees and retired persons facing the strong increase of the essential goods prices without their resources having followed. Several signals about consumption and saving reveal the magnitude of these new inequalities.

During 2024 1st quarter, new vehicles registrations of BMW, Mercedes and Porsche have increased by 24%, 18% and 87% when Renault ones increased only by 3.6% and Peugeot fell by 3%. The evolution of saving behaviors testifies quite also of these changes. Against what is frequently maintained, they do not result from worries regarding the future but from revenues by large above their consumption for a category of the population.

It is especially spectacular regarding financial saving ratio. Its level, compared to gross available revenue has reached this year a record during the 1st quarter with 8.1%. It was at 6.5% in 2023, there too largely above the average of these previous years which was between 4 and 5%. This saving has profited to life insurance whose level was near 2000 billion euro at the end of May after a 14 billion collection since the beginning of the year. There are so, in one side the massive population of workers and jobseekers who have problems to pay their expenses at the end of the month, and in the other side another part of the population which can save and accumulate wealth.

The third signal is given by the pensions system. The general regime knows a deficit and the State, regularly, makes adopted measures, not to increase its resources but to reduce the benefits which weights on the retired persons purchasing power and to extend the duration of the working period to be able at last to receive their pensions. To the contrary, these whose wages level allow to contributing to complementary regimes or these who benefit from a special regime as in the Banque de France are sure, due to the huge surplus accumulated during decades, to be able to benefit from a high enough pension level. It so has been demanded to workers and to employees sacrifices which have allowed to protecting the level of benefits dedicated to superior categories. To avoid these discontents and the social movements which have been its consequence, it would have been enough to progressively increase the ceiling of the general regime contributions.

The nature and the size of the inequalities inside the French society have so strongly developed and are at the origin of the political disruptions. In the past, inequalities were transmitting themselves from one generation to the other and the political choices were easy. For the right, this transmission was protected. For the left, were proposed through measures in favor of welfare protection and a better sharing of the tax burden, the reduction of these inequalities. These policies became inefficient because they do not grapple with the origins of the new inequalities and it is that point which has profited to the National Rally.

The supply side policy launched from 2013 with the important charges reductions in favor of enterprises and the end of the progressivity of the taxes on financial revenues (the flat-tax at 30%) have contributed to the enrichment of all these who benefited from high wages and of the rise of the financial markets. That policy did not deliver any result regarding competitiveness as testifies the growing deficit of the foreign trade balance. It has not allowed, through hoping to support growth, a public accounts improvement which, to the opposite, downgraded themselves, even if we remove the measures decided during the Covid-19 pandemic and to soften the consequences in the energy sector of the invasion of Ukraine by Russia.

The political base of the social struggles has moved. Are not anymore denounced the “Big Capital” or the “200 families” but the elites who became the big winners of these last decades marked by the globalization and by the internationalization of the major groups, of the banks and of the services activities. The industry has few taken profit of it. Renault market capitalization (15 billion) is almost twice lower than Publicis one (25 billion). The left forces have not assessed at their right value the consequences of theses changes which have generated these new inequalities. They left populist movements to take profit of this transformation of the French society.

The territorial consequences have also been heavy. The highly qualified and paid jobs concentrated themselves into large metropoles, accelerating the desertification of the rural world. The reduction of the population has entailed the disappearance of essential public services making these territories even less attractive. To the growing revenues inequalities has been added the fall of the quality of life in many regions where inhabitants fell themselves more and more abandoned. Votes, in strong augmentation in favor of the National Rally reveals these deep discontents there where, in the past, the right received the support of a population attached, through its culture and its history, to conservative values. Regarding regions affected by de-industrialization, where, at the opposite the left tradition was rooted, people withdrew their support to these parties considered responsible of the situation they felt they were the victims.

The retreat of the traditional political forces, from which the National Rally has taken profit, comes from the French society evolution, with the rise of these new economic and territorial inequalities. Time has come, if these forces and notably the left, want to reverse this trend, to understand this transformation and to bring adapted solutions.