"By the standards of the US, there are no credible politicians in France who would be considered "conservative". They’re all socialists (irrespective of whether they’re formally labeled "Socialist"). It’s just a matter of degree. […] I’ll believe that a French "conservative" has appeared with a major candidate recommends substantial cuts in the welfare state and drastic reductions in the number of government employees as part of his campaign for high public office. That would be "conservative" by my standards. Of course, such a candidate wouldn’t stand a snowball’s chance in hell of election in France, so I don’t expect to see such a thing any time soon."
Exactly. There’s not real political current in France that stands on the right end of the spectrum as far as economic issues are concerned. Madelin is supposedly a soft libertarian, which already deserves him the "ultra liberal tag" (remember, in Europe, liberal is meant in the old classic sense, "ultra liberal" means you don’t expect a collusion of government and trade unions to rule your whole life from birth to death, and it’s generally considered a bad thing here).
Madelin’s tactical compromises with Chirac demonstrate his lack of conviction though, so all we’re left with is the broadest choice of neo-communist politicians to choose from anywhere on Earth. France will still strive at "perfect socialism" (sic) long after the last Cubans and North Koreans have starved themselves to death.