February 17, 2013
Many attributed Francois Hollande’s election victory to the animosity generated by his predecessor rather than merit. Governing in the wake behind a hyperactive Sarkozy should not be easy, especially in France, where it is assumed that the greatness of the ego of the President has to live up to the grandeur of the Republic itself. Not that Hollande himself did much to dispel that perception, with an affable appearance that critics immediately vilified as a lack of character.
The political moment was not on Hollande side: just as right-wing presidents know they will be reelected for lowering taxes, please shine markets and law and order, the leftist presidents know that their political fate is linked to redistribution and the extension of rights. Nothing worse because he came to power in a situation where he has to impose spending cuts and austerity visible gestures before some markets, spurred by a cover of The Economist that showed France as a bomb waiting to explode, seemed to be launched against the country forward.
If, at the same time, as happened to Hollande, he must govern a Europe torn between creditors and debtors and do it the hand of a German government has clearly sided with the group of creditors, then start taking dilemmas a turn existential. Provoking to speculators obviating the need for cuts or alienate your constituency forgetting the promises you have been to Elysium? Debtors? Partner with feet to stop Merkel and their absurd policies or attempt to win over the Germans to soften their positions? None of these decisions were easy and, despite this, Hollande has gotten away with it, at least for now.
Domestically been known offset the unpopularity of spending cuts with the reinforcement of certain policies, such as education, and raises taxes on higher incomes, so that their support has not suffered too. And at European level coordination has combined with Spain and Italy, very visible at the summit last June in which Merkel managed to accept the need for wire bonding, with maintaining the special relationship with Germany. Hollande counselors presume, although both complain about not being collected properly, how far Sarkozy preferred the media noise and public prominence while the results, they say, is doing much more to Hollande than to Merkel or Sarkozy without bragging about it.
Two examples corroborate this assertion. The first is Greece. Hollande would have been the architect of the spin given by Merkel, who after hesitating for months if abetting those who called for the expulsion of Greece from the euro zone, Hollande would have been convinced by the output of Greece, although not posing a threat for the euro, valuations lastraría forever on his tenure as chancellor. The second has to do with the negotiations on the EU budget. Contrary to the prevailing view, which states that the budget reflects only the interests of Cameron and Merkel and France has been marginal in its conception, indicate how effective Hollande’s mediation on a budget issue which, although lower than desired, has been able to meet the aspirations of all states, both in the East and South (Spain will remain a net receiver of funds) as in the case of the other net contributors like the Netherlands or Finland.
In the next phase, as announced in the speech to the European Parliament on 5th, Hollande raises close the gap between the German position, which only seems to believe in a tightening of the rules and sanctions mechanisms , or the French position, which raises its own budget for the eurozone and plans to boost jobs and growth via investment in training, infrastructure, renewable energy and research. So, little by little, Hollande has acquired the package was missing. And to top it off, the military operation in Mali has brought an unexpected gift: the acclaimed Sarkozy in Tripoli will now ride his successor by Timbuktu as the ultimate proof that Hollande is the worst possible rival: a pragmatic lot.
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