Francois Hollande expects to inherit a worse public finances predicament than that declared by the Sarkozy administration and will promptly spell out several unpleasant truths to the French electorate, according to senior German officials.
Despite fears that he will pursue a "dangerous" economic policy featuring a return to Keynesian tax-and-spend practices, Hollande and his campaign team have told the Germans that this has been ruled out. "We can't do Keynesianism twice in 10 years," Michel Sapin, the former finance minister who wrote Hollande's economic programme, told senior German diplomats, according to a confidential note.
Hollande must move fast if he is to capitalise on the election dynamic. He has conceded he will have "no state of grace" and little room for manoeuvre in France's dire economic situation.