mead cohen berger shevtsova garfinkle michta grygiel blankenhorn
Hollande Heads Right
Crushing Defeat Prompts Dramatic Changes for French Socialists

In a stunning defeat for France’s Socialist Party, fifty big cities voted for the center-right party in local elections this past weekend—some of which have been long held by the left. Now President François Hollande appears to be changing course. He has appointed Manuel Valls as his government’s new Prime Minister. Valls is known as a tough-talking, immigrant-deporting figure from the far Right of his party, as the FT notes:

In an article for the Financial Times in 2009, Mr Valls lambasted the French left for being pompous and utopian, said there was “no longer an alternative to the capitalist system and market economy”, and dismissed the term “socialist” as outdated. In his presidential primary campaign in 2011, Mr Valls won just 6 per cent support from Socialist voters […]

It was Mr Valls’ hard line as interior minister over the past two years, particularly against illegal immigrants, that most recently infuriated many on the left.

This was most in evidence last year when Mr Valls backed the deportation of a Roma teenager and her family after the young girl was detained by police while on a school outing.

But Hollande faces wider European challenges as well as domestic dissent. The FT reports on Hollande’s new budget priorities. Currently the EU government in Brussels is giving France until 2015 to lower its budget deficit to 3 percent of national income. But after appointing Valls, Hollande called for that deadline to be pushed back, saying the country needs more time to grow its economy. Another French politician who has risen amid Hollande’s cabinet reshuffles, Arnaud Montebourg, is also vocally opposing the European Union for its “austerity and dogma.” A showdown with Germany over this deficit target looms, as Germany is the EU member most likely to insist on hard budget deadlines for France. For Hollande, appeasing voters means tacking to the right on issues like immigration and tacking to the left against EU budget requirements even as he tries to introduce a few pro-business reforms. Germany might like the reforms, and anti-immigrant politics is something German politicians understand, but the budget is still a red line.

Hollande and his new Prime Minister face a hard road ahead.

Features Icon
show comments
  • Andrew Allison

    You overlooked the fact that Brussels treated the request for more time with the contempt which it deserved, pointing out that France has already received two extensions.

  • Pete

    Is the appointment of Valls a sign of reform or is it just window dressing?

    Knowing the sleazy nature of lefties, I suspect it is the latter.

  • Bruce

    How do you grow an economy with a 75% tax rate on job creators?

    • Andrew Allison

      Give more to the workers? [/grin]

  • Corlyss

    This is what happens when the elitist Eurotrash politicians don’t listen to their people. The EU is one of the most un- and anti-democratic organizations on the planet. The only reason it survives is that no scrutiny is given to it by the consummately sycophantish, state-supported media who all think like the governments: i.e., the peoples’ role is to shut up and pay the bills. It’s a deplorable development in the west, along with declining justice for native borns, the rise of PC speech codes, and unrestricted immigration.

    • Jim__L

      This is the rule of the Philosopher Kings. (By the Philosopher Kings… FOR the Philosopher Kings.)

      That age-old dream has finally been realized… and we find that yet again, power has corrupted, human wisdom is incomplete at best, and the Gods of the Copybook Headings return.

  • Gary Hemminger

    You don’t grow an economy like this. What you do is get re-elected because this is what the people want. It is time that conservatives realize that the issue isn’t with the leftish politicians. It is the people themselves. They want government programs and really don’t care about growth. They care about themselves. The west is weak. the people are weak. The politicians are giving folks what they want. The fact that this leads to no growth and high unemployment (especially among youth) is evidently not important to folks. They just want what they want and politicians are happy to oblige. The problem isn’t politicians or the 1%, it is the people. they are ignorant and lazy.

© The American Interest LLC 2005-2016 About Us Masthead Submissions Advertise Customer Service