What is going on in France? A few thoughts via the Telegraph.
French leader François Hollande is uncomfortably close to a collapse in credibility. His poll rating has sunk to 36pc. The speed of decline has been shocking.
The latest broadside comes from ex-German chancellor Gerhard Schröder, supposedly his ally on the Left.
“The election promises of the French president are going to shatter on the walls of economic reality,” he said in Paris.
The backsliding in the retirement age is indefensible and “cannot be financed”. Two or three more blunders of this kind and “reality will catch up with out French friends”.
The French are living in Alice and Wonderland. Bild Zeitung asked whether France is becoming the “new Greece”. You get the drift. (Full article here).
Some thoughts on Mr Hollande by Spiegel.
On the night of his victory, France’s new president seemed tired and overwhelmed by the magnitude of his new office as he pushed his way through the crowd towards the stage in Tulle, his electoral district in southwestern France.
The setting for his victory speech could hardly have been better. He stood before more than a thousand people packed into the cathedral square basked in late evening light, a picture postcard view of a rural France where everything was still right. But Hollande looked exhausted and gave a bland speech in which he repeated a few election promises. He pledged to make France a fairer place, and to help the youth. “I take the measure of the honor that’s been granted me and the challenge that awaits me,” he said.
In the weeks leading up to his victory, something had glowed in him, and it was noticeable in his television debate against Nicolas Sarkozy, where he seemed elevated by the prospect of winning. But on the evening of his triumph, the presidential aura seemed to have evaporated.
In Tulle on Sunday night, Hollande looked deadly serious and suddenly seemed small again. Like someone who has just become aware of the size of the task before him.
The president of France is, after all, an elected king. He sits on a throne above the nation. Tremendous symbolic importance is attached to his office, and it initially dwarfs everyone charged with filling it. The man about whom former president Jacques Chirac said long ago, “More people have heard of Mitterrands’ Labrador than of François Hollande,” now stands in a line with Louis XIV, Napoleon and General de Gaulle. (Full article here).
Golem delivers another great summary of what is actually going on in Europe. The only growth around is the growth of counter party risk….
There are so many reasons for believing that the European ‘recovery’ plan is not working now and will continue to not work no matter how long we are forced to subsidize it. Today we can add one more reason – Mr Francois Hollande is now the favourite to beat Mr Sarkozy and become France’s next President.
The very prospect that Mr Hollande might replace Mr Sarkozy is enough for all the European markets to head straight down. Germany and Spain are both down over 2.7%. Why should this be so? Because Mr Hollande has made it clear he will ‘renegotiate’ France’s role in Europe’s various bail out plans. Any such renegotiation would leave Europe’s bail-out fund fiction in tatters.
Mr Hollande evidently does not believe the pious fiction that underpins almost the whole European and in fact global fiction of recovery, namely that there is now, or will be soon – quite soon, fairly soon, just over the next hill… some growth. Growth is what is supposed to allow Greece to become solvent, allow Spain to cope with the bursting of the dam of regional debt that is presently engulfing its banks and forcing its CDS rates to unsustainable levels. Mr Hollande is the first but will not be the last to say that the growth plan is not working. The Dutch Parliament yesterday collapsed because they too could not agree to go along with the fiction. We do not have growth. What we have are cuts in public spending while we have increases in public funds being siphoned away to pay for more and yet more bank bail outs.