From 2012 to 2022, how “finance” went under the presidential radar

Paris (AFP) – Opponent of François Hollande during the 2012 campaign, “the world of finance” has, ten years later, almost disappeared from the speeches of the candidates for the presidential election. And this despite the record profits made by banks in the midst of the Covid-19 crisis.

Between the promise to relax the conditions for obtaining real estate loans at Eric Zemmour or greater control and a tax increase for banks at Jean-Luc Mélenchon, several candidates have made proposals for the sector, but these are rarely put forward and figure little in the political debate.

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Finance is not the only one absent, as the Covid-19 pandemic and more recently the war in Ukraine have relegated a number of subjects to the background.

But the contrast with previous presidential campaigns is striking. Compared to 2012 especially, when the candidate of the Socialist Party, François Hollande, designated “the world of finance” as his “adversary”.

Among his campaign promises at the time: the separation of investment banking and retail banking activities, and an increase in taxes, in the wake of two successive crises, that of “subprime” and debt.

The banks “were accused of having taken excessive risks, by exposing depositors and forcing the States to intervene to save them”, remembers Eric Dor, director of economic studies at the IESEG School of Management. in Paris and Lille.

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“A lot of time has passed since,” he continues, adding that the promised reform had finally been largely emptied of its original content once the socialist candidate was elected.

At the time, “there was also a more traditional left-right confrontation with ideological positions that could easily be attached to this subject and this sector”, adds Bruno Jeanbart, vice-president of the OpinionWay institute.

– Former banker –

In 2017, if the subject is already less significant in the campaign, the opponents of Emmanuel Macron attack him, among other things, on his profile as a former managing partner at the Rothschild bank.

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Depicted as a representative of “finance”, in particular by Marine Le Pen in the between-two towers, Mr. Macron is forced to defend himself from being “subject to the banks”.

The candidate then called for “never to be caricatured”, “because we hate banks until the day we need them to finance ourselves”.

Today, if there remain “reminiscences” of his past as an investment banker, in particular with the controversy over the use of consulting firms, in particular McKinsey, explains Bruno Jeanbart, “it is less at the heart of the debate “.

Critics “will be organized more around what he did as president than on what happened before,” he explains.

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– Overshadowed by the climate –

In 2022, several candidates, particularly on the left, continue to propose greater regulation of the financial sector: real separation of investment and retail banks for Jean-Luc Mélenchon, “prudential malus” (which would require more capital reserves, nldr) for establishments financing fossil fuels for Yannick Jadot, or “requisition of banks” and consolidation in a monopoly under the control of employees and the population for the NPA candidate Philippe Poutou.

On the right and on the extreme right, in addition to Eric Zemmour’s promise on real estate loans, Marine Le Pen wants the creation of a “French sovereign fund” to increase the remuneration of savings and direct it towards ” strategic sectors and innovation”. As for Valérie Pécresse, she proposes a “National Youth Bank” with deferred credit repayment, and a “Overseas Bank”.

Emmanuel Macron remained cautious on the subject of finance.

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But, compared to ten years ago, “public indignation has been channeled towards all the companies responsible for excessive carbon emissions and global warming”, says Eric Dor.

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In this context, banks are falling through the cracks despite accusations from NGOs on the financing of fossil fuels, while the sector recorded historic profits in 2021, as in the case of BNP Paribas, Crédit Agricole or Societe Generale.

From the point of view of public opinion, the big oil groups “are a bit like the banks of ten years ago”, notes Mr. Dor.

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