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What shouldn't be done? - Denis Kessler in Commentaires

Created in 1978, Commentaire publishes a collection of articles, critiquing ideas of today that will shape tomorrow’s society. Please see below Chairman & CEO of SCOR, Denis Kessler's article "What shouldn't be done?".

This question was asked in relation to a political platform for France. We are not convinced it is a pertinent question, if a platform means a long list of totally unconnected measures that candidates promise to carry out if they are elected. The list is usually very dense and ill-assorted, because it is mainly aimed at satisfying the various categories whose votes these candidates are trying to catch. It has to include the farmers and the overseas territories, the pensioners and the young people, the tenants and the landlords, the SMEs and the artisans, the suburbs and the city centres. In France, a platform is often a series of claims aimed at different categories of the population, with a few guiding principles thrown in for good measure. Since standing for election basically means seeking legislative and regulatory power, the platform primarily consists of promises of new laws and new regulations, in addition to promises to change and even do away with the existing laws and regulations. Voters have certain expectations of their future head of State so candidates have to come with their hands full, even though we should know by now they don’t have much to offer!


The election “platform” is an excellent illustration of the “capture” of the State which, under the guise of overtly and officially acting in the public interest, defends the existence of an existing “rent” or permits the creation of a new one. “Rent” should be taken here in the broad sense of the term. It may be a subsidy or special taxation treatment, a source of revenue, a status or even a recognition. When the “electoral promise” is defined by the candidate and their party, it determines who will be doing the capturing. But the process of trying to meet the demands of different categories of the population, and making electoral promises of every kind imaginable, does not work towards the public interest. Quite the contrary.