Wednesday, June 13, 2012

The French exceptionalism of President Hollande.

An editorial in The Guardian yesterday concluded with the following two paragraphs:

Detail is often a liability in campaigning, but it is a necessity in government. As he discloses it, and some of it will no doubt be unpalatable, Mr Hollande will have to carry a sceptical and politically weary public opinion with him while he attempts to restore the French economy, manage the relationship with Germany and rekindle French faith in Europe.
He will not do it by charisma of the flamboyant kind because that is the one quality, it is widely agreed, he does not possess. But there is also a sort of charisma of normality, of perceived competence, quiet wit, sincerity and good intentions. High office can have a transforming effect and Mr Hollande is already visibly growing into his job.

I think this is to misunderstand what is presently underway in France. Having lived in France for some years and struggled to understand the huge differences in politics within this country compared to those in Britain and the USA with which I am most familiar, it might be interesting for some to consider the following presumptions I have reached in this strange interval between the two rounds of the parliamentary portion of this extended election period.

Hollande having assumed the most powerful elected position which exists in any fully fledged Western democracy, is now set to achieve domination of the final power centre of his nation, namely a majority in the National Assembly.

Contrary to what The Guardian suggests in its editorial, IMO this is being met with barely concealed excitement rather than scepticism and weariness, not merely on the left, but even amongst the managerial and middle classes. Weariness with the bluster, arrogance and triangulation of the one term President Sarkozy is no doubt mainly the cause of that; but it also based on a general understanding among such groups, that the socialism of the PS in France is different to the socialism as understood by English speakers (as mostly propagated by Dennis Skinner MP in Westminster).

An example of this extra subtlety, may be found in the electorally brilliant ploy of President Hollande announcing the exemptions to the blanket increase in retirement age from 60 to 62. As reported across the world's English media, this became a universal lowering of the retirement age, no doubt the electorally aimed first presumption. Studied in detail it formalises certain limited exemptions for early school leaving manual workers, etc; which would have become de facto exclusions no sooner than the new rules had taken effect and it was therefore, in an election situation, a very smart and virtually cost free move of which any Anglo Saxon electoral candidate would have been extremely proud if ever having a similar opportunity.

The future for France under a re-elected President Sarkozy would have been that under German control as set out in the former President's election speech in Toulon at the tail end of last year, on which more from this blog may be read from here.

As may be seen in those postings the real election issues were fully understood in France, and the results we are seeing this weekend will be reflected in the outcome next weekend.

This time next week the most powerful politician in the EU will be President Hollande, especially if has a working PS majority in the National Assemby, his clear mandate will be to remove France from the domination of his country as planned by Merkozy. A close study of all his manifesto commitments makes it immediately clear that they are only practical in a country with unfettered sovereignty and its own independent currency. Whether France is sufficiently bold and unfettered from obligations to put all that into effect remains unclear. If it is not then President Hollande will quickly lose all his present electoral popularity, but that will only have any results at the opening of a new election campaign, when France will be encased within German dictated constraints!



Post a Comment

<< Home