which candidates have the best funded program?

The Institut Montaigne examined the economic programs of the five main candidates and estimates their impact on public finances.

After “whatever the cost” should we close the doors of public spending? While the budget deficit is expected at 5% of GDP this year (after 8.9% in 2020 and 6.5% in 2021) and the debt is expected to stabilize at 113.5%, the candidates intend to to restore the country’s public finances?

If all the “big” candidates claim to have a tight budget program with expenses they believe they can finance, it seems that this is not the case.

According to the liberal think tank Institut Montaigne, none of the five candidates leading the polls would be able to restore public finances at the end of the future term. In a study published this Wednesday and broadcast by The echoesthe think tank is trying to quantify the actual savings that would result from the measures proposed by the five main candidates (according to the polls) as well as the promised expenditure.

And if every candidate makes sure that his program is funded, even for some surplus, the calculations of the Institut Montaigne show a very different result. The difference is generally explained by the growth effects each candidate thinks they are having with their program, while the think tank often views these projections as highly speculative.

Which main contenders have the most lopsided agenda?

The cost of candidate programs according to Institut Montaigne © Institut Montaigne

1. Jean-Luc Mélenchon: debt at 134% of GDP in 2027

The candidate of La France Insoumise is one of the few to believe that his program is in surplus. 250 billion euros of spending and 267 billion of savings, or a surplus of 17 billion euros in the end according to its cost.

The Institut Montaigne does not at all obtain the same result with savings widely revised downwards (113 billion instead of 267) and higher expenses (332 billion instead of 250).

“The difference between the Institut Montaigne’s estimate and that of the candidate derives in particular from additional revenue measures whose materialization is too uncertain to be taken into account, such as the revenue expected from an increased fight against fraud and tax evasion (estimated at 26 billion euros per year by the candidate) or measures not sufficiently detailed to give rise to a cost “, estimates the study.

At the end of a possible five-year period, the balance would fall by 219 billion euros and the debt would rise to 134% of GDP.

2. Eric Zemmour: debt at 130% of GDP in 2027

20 billion surplus for the candidate, 146 billion deficit according to the Institut Montaigne.

Eric Zemmour would overestimate the savings he intends to make. According to the think tank, the spending cuts would not be 80 billion euros but 22. Again, too many uncertain or poorly documented results.

“Revenue measures whose materialization is too uncertain to be taken into consideration: greater fight against social and tax fraud (15 billion according to the candidate),” fight against waste, non-priority spending and disorganization of the state “(15 billion according to the candidate ) and “the fight against bureaucracy and the additional costs of decentralization” (15 billion according to the candidate), summarizes the study. In addition, measures to increase the retirement age or reduce social assistance for immigrants provide savings that are lower than those estimated by the candidate.

But it is on the expenses that the candidate would show the greatest difference with the Montaigne cost. He estimates them at 60 billion euros against almost 168 billion for the thin tank.

“The candidate estimates the total cost of the measures at 60 billion, a difference of almost 110 billion compared to the Institut Montaigne estimate, or more than 4 points of GDP, summarizes the note. If we look at the measures one by one, most of costs seems to be very underestimated by the candidate. For example, the “zero burden” bonus paid by the employer would cost 28 billion euros a year according to the Institute, compared to zero cost according to the candidate. “

In the budget, therefore, a deficit that would degrade by 145.8 billion euros and a debt that would rise to 130% of GDP.

3. Marine Le Pen: a debt of 123% of GDP

Unlike the previous two, the candidate RN recognizes a gross deficit (excluding positive effects on growth) of its program of approximately 13 billion euros. But according to the Institut Montaigne, this deficit would be eight times higher, about 100 billion euros.

On savings measures, “the difference derives in particular from savings measures that are not sufficiently detailed or whose materialization is too uncertain to be taken into consideration”, summarizes the think tank. This is in particular the objective of a greater fight against social and fiscal fraud (15 billion euros according to the candidate). Furthermore, the candidate announces a reduction of € 5 billion, or around 20%, of France’s contribution to the EU budget, which implies conducting negotiations with our European partners, the outcome of which is uncertain. “

But it is above all on expenses that the gap is most important. The candidate estimates them at 68 billion against the Institute’s nearly 120 billion.

The cost of some measures such as pensions would be greatly underestimated. As a reminder, the RN candidate offers a progressive system retirement, booking the pension at 60 with 40 pensions for French people who entered working life before the age of 20

The candidate estimates these measures in favor of pensioners at € 17.1 billion, a cost estimated by the Institut Montaigne at € 37.7 billion.

Total cost of the Marine Le Pen program: € 101.8 billion and a debt of 123% at the end of the five-year period.

4. Emmanuel Macron: a debt of 117% of GDP

With Marine Le Pen, Emmanuel Macron is the second among the “big” candidates to recognize a deficit of around 6 billion euros in his program. But the Institut Montaigne estimates it at almost 45 billion.

If the two calculations roughly agree on spending (a difference of 7 billion euros), it is on the revenue side that the think tank’s analysis diverges.

“The difference between the 12.7 billion estimated by the Institut Montaigne and the 44 billion announced by the candidate is due in particular to the fact that the candidate has announced savings of 25 billion euros deriving from the reforms to modernize the administrative-user relationship (in particular through digitization), but also the reduction of operating costs for the State and social security or the fight against tax evasion, the materialization of which is not certain, and which has not been taken into account in this cost “, notes the study.

On this basis, the debt would rise to 117% of GDP at the end of a possible second term of Emmanuel Macron when the latter estimates it would begin to decline in 2026.

5. Valérie Pécresse: a debt of 116% of GDP

The LR candidate presents the most understated program of the top five candidates. Only 42 billion euros in expenses and 84 billion in savings according to his calculations. If the expenses would be underestimated by ten billion euros according to the Institute, it is on savings that the difference is the most important (16.5 billion against 84 according to Valérie Pécresse).

As with most applicants, savings are more declarations of intent than actual detailed measures.

“Greater fight against social and fiscal fraud (15 billion according to the candidate), elimination of tax loopholes (15 billion according to the candidate), various savings on the functioning of administrations (5 billion according to the candidate)”, summarizes the Montaigne Institute.

So many measures that the think tank does not include in its calculations as they are vague.

However, in the budget, it is the budget trajectory of the LR candidate that would be the least burdensome for public finances with a deficit of 35 billion euros and a debt that will rise to 116% of GDP in 2027.

>>> Purchasing power, environment, health … Find and compare the main proposals of presidential candidates in our comparator

Frederic Bianchi

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