Former ECB Head Says Government of Technocrats Won't Work in France

(Bloomberg) -- A hung parliament in France is more likely to produce a broad coalition government rather than an Italian-style technocrat-led administration, according to former central bank chief Jean-Claude Trichet.

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Speaking to Bloomberg Television, the veteran policymaker said that the election this Sunday will probably prompt President Emmanuel Macron to seek enough lawmaker support to forge a minority block to lead the country rather than to attempt any apolitical arrangement.

“A technocratic government is not in the French tradition at all — it might be a solution in other countries, namely Italy,” said Trichet, a former Bank of France governor and president of the European Central Bank. “In France it is not the case because we are in a totally different political framework.”

Trichet spoke just days before the second round of parliamentary elections where the far-right National Rally is likely to win, but may fall short of a majority. Jordan Bardella, that party’s president, has vowed that his group won’t form a government without control of the National Assembly.

Italy has sometimes resorted to appointing a technocrat seen as above the fray of politics in moments of deadlock and financial-market stress. Most recently, Trichet’s successor at the ECB, Mario Draghi, served as premier until Giorgia Meloni’s government won power in 2022.

“In Italy, the governor of the central bank is regularly, if I may, prime minister or even president of the republic,” Trichet said. “I have known several.”

A return to France of current ECB President and former French Finance Minister Christine Lagarde is “quite unlikely,” he added. Instead, Trichet reckons that if the election produces a “solid block of the center,” Macron will most likely try building enough support for a minority administration.

“The president would probably try to have a coalition government in having the center, the so- called Social Democrats on the left side, plus others — perhaps the greens — and on the right side of the political spectrum, the so-called Republicans,” he said. “That would perhaps permit to have a coalition government.”

He warned that while a majority for the National Rally is unlikely, such an outcome would pose “very big” risks.

“If either the program of the extreme right or the program of the left extreme would be applied, it would be extremely bad for France, for the French citizens, and of course also for Europe, taking into account the position for France,” Trichet said.

--With assistance from Kriti Gupta, Anna Edwards and Guy Johnson.

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