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Meet the French Socialist Who Could Save Europe

A socialist president in France is inspiring jitters, but the Francois Hollande could be just what the doctor ordered for Europe—and the world.


Over the weekend, the citizens of France elected a Francois Hollande, a socialist, to be their president. Here in the United States, attempts to comprehend this may be futile, given national confusion over whether or not our own president is a socialist,* but there’s no need to panic over this particular European specter. In fact, Hollande’s election may be exactly what Europe needs.

The key issue in Europe right now is hashing out the financial crisis that has already brought low governments in Greece, Spain, and Italy. A simplified version of the story is that most European countries got together under one currency, like the U.S. dollar, but didn’t put the bulk of their government spending under one organ, like the U.S. Congress. Without those two tools unified, some European countries ran up more debt than they could manage and now find themselves in danger of losing access to funding for public spending while their banks teeter, drying up credit that entrepreneurs need.

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Is This the End of the European Union?

Europe's financial crisis is undermining one of the great global experiments in democracy and economics.


When Jean Monnet was 26, an assassination in the Balkans sparked World War I. When he was 51, Hitler’s Germany launched World War II, engulfing Europe in chaos again. The French economist concluded that only economic integration could keep the continent from war, and spent the rest of his life laying the groundwork for what would become the European Union.

Now, with the continent engulfed in financial crisis that began in the Balkans, it’s disturbingly possible that Monnet’s dream could go down the tubes, as France and Germany contemplate creating a “core” of economically-integrated countries and leaving insolvent members behind.

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