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Hollande Gets Poor Marks on First Year


French President François Hollande is about a couple of months past the first-year mark, and it’s been a disastrous term so far. If he’s surprised by this, he shouldn’t be. Right out of the gate, he’s made moves that both supporters and opponents would consider missteps. He raised taxes on businesses to increase revenue for Socialist-favored programs, but after complaints from the business community and a poor showing by the economy, he reversed himself and offered businesses a tax break, alienating some of his core constituents. But businesses weren’t pleased by the reversal, complaining that the tax credits hardly offset the tax hikes, and that Hollande has done far too little to change the labor and pension rules that have made doing business in France so difficult.

Hollande’s dithering and policy uncertainty are driving the electorate into the hands of the far right, with the National Front making gains, according to the FT:

Increasingly, the political hay in France is being made by the National Front, led by Marine le Pen. Her party has knocked the socialists into third place in recent by-elections and threatens to do serious damage both to them and to the UMP in next year’s municipal and European elections.

Hollande has been stumbling along a tightrope since he came into office late last year. On the one hand, he feels pressure to cater to his “pro-worker” party base by delivering the left-leaning, anti-Sarkozy policies he promised during his campaign. But these policies are bad for business and for international investors, something Hollande seems to recognize. Thus far, his attempts to split the difference have only created confusion. Unless Hollande can find some kind of balance (or unless the center-right UMP can disentangle itself from seemingly endless scandals), France’s drift to the right will likely continue.

[François Hollande photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons]

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  • SF Dude

    Objection! Hollande totally rocks at having his riot police and security forces beat down and gas the dangerous masses of backward Catholics and assorted old folks who dared protest against France’s new gay marriage law. Success is also noted in the French media’s down play of extensive popular revulsion to the law. (While this humble commenter is cool with gay marriage, he is not cool with state violence directed against peaceful protestors; compliant media are never cool.)

    Oh well, at least Hollande didn’t dither too much when it came time to deploy force and clean out Timbuktu.

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