Francois Hollande’s Failed Calculation

Francois Hollande


By David P. Griscom


After recent events, French President Francois Hollande likely will no longer espouse the maxim he has held on to for so long: the saying “keep your friends close and your enemies closer” has been abandoned, and the leader now prefers to keep his enemies far away. President Hollande recently dissolved the French cabinet, so he could expel members who have been critical of his economic policy. While he may have temporarily succeeded in securing a more loyal cabinet, he will have more difficulty with the French public who have made their disapproval of his government clear.

While he continues to alienate himself from members of his own party, he has found comfort in the arms of Germany. Like many European countries, the French economy is struggling and under the direction of Hollande France will enact austerity measures. In response to this, the now former Minister of Economy Arnaud Montebourg claimed in a meeting of the French Socialist Party that France should not align itself “with the excessive obsessions of the German conservatives.” This action led to many more public statements by members of the cabinet against Hollande’s intentions. Hollande then responded by dissolving the cabinet and has replaced the dissident members with people more fond of neoliberal policies.    

While it is not unreasonable that the executive branch should be able to be divided, this incident shows Hollande’s appalling lack of vision. In a Machiavellian, but not uncommon move, Hollande placed his enemy Montebourg close to him, despite their long standing disagreements. Montebourg did not support Hollande in his presidential run and was an outspoken critic of his during that process. Now, it has become clear that Hollande in no way was in control of this relationship and, in fact, he has only made his enemy stronger. Montebourg not only will be able to profit from his rising stardom, he now has successfully separated himself from the wildly unpopular government. It is apparent that Hollande does not have the traits that distinguish an effective political leader. 

If politics were but a game then we could sit on the beach and watch this presidency sink. Unfortunately, the French economy is in terrible shape. This is a result of the incoherent political doctrine of Francois Hollande, which leans every which way as he waits for the wind to choose his direction. Now we see a President who will enact these neoliberal reforms like tax breaks for the wealthy and businesses and slash government assistance programs to those in need. If we are to predict his future actions based on his past political work, we can expect that this will be done with the precision of a shaky-handed surgeon. 

Photo Credit: DonkeyHokey at Flickr Commons