This means that the average Frenchman will be wary about, say, buying a new car or booking a holiday in the Seychelles ... until he knows just who is going to win. Car sales in January 2012 were down a whopping 20% ...the paralysis is setting in.

Don't even ask how the French approach house buying in the run-up to the election! It just doesn't happen.

You may be wondering what the logic is behind this phobia. And you are not alone. There is, in truth, very little difference in the economic programme of Messrs Sarkozy and Hollande, at least not enough to warrant a freeze on expenditure. And even if there were: surely the 'danger' of a socialist leader becoming president ought, logically, to incite the rich to splurge on property, cars and gold bars ... and the perception of a man of the right winning should motivate these same rich to move their wealth into something more liquid.

Only it does not work like this: the rich and the poor, the right and left, stand petrified and united until the terrible days of April are over.