On the morning after the French conservatives narrowly managed to hold off the rise of the far-right National Front (FN) party in the country’s local elections, one of the most famous and successful businessmen in the region, Publicis Groupe CEO Maurice Levy, was disappointed.
And he’s not enamoured with politics in Britain, either.
Speaking at Advertising Week Europe in London on Monday, the French advertising agency boss spoke about the biggest political issue businesses have to face in his home country. He called it “half-pregnancy.”
“[The result of the elections] was slightly better than expected, we were fearing to see the Far Right coming in first. They are second and that is still too high,” he said. “If we look back at what has been the action of the government in France, I must confess it has not been as productive as it could be. We have a French disease which is half-pregnancy: All our governments have done a lot of reforms, but none of the reforms that have been implemented in the last 20 years have gone deep enough to solve the problems.”
The result of the past 20 to 30 years of apparent non-action on issues such as tackling the deficit is that French people have become disillusioned in the political parties in power, Levy said: “It is very painful, people are [in] discomfort, they are unhappy, they don’t trust any more the government, and that’s the reason the Far Right is so high, because they say ‘maybe we should try something different’ — They feel betrayed by the government.”
“There’s something very sad I find about the UK”
Moving on to British politics, Levy said he was also disappointed with decisions Prime Minister David Cameron looks close to making on Europe: “I respect the fact that the UK has this separate currency, and that’s fine, the Euro has not been implemented everywhere … I am so sorry to see that David Cameron has decided [he could] call a referendum on Europe.”
Levy believes such a move would be “dangerous” were the UK to vote to pull out of Europe.
He added: “This would be the end of Europe as we dreamed it., and this would be for me a very, very strong disappointment.”
On the forthcoming May General Election in the UK, Levy said: “It looks like no-one is interested in running the country for the next election, everything has been pushed forward and it snowballs [Levy then made an action as if to physically recoil]: ‘Let’s have somebody else taking care of those snowballs for two to three years, then we will be back. That’s the feeling you get when you read the British press.”
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