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Monday, March 31, 2014

Hollande expected to announce cabinet reshuffle after local election 'punishment'

If you want to get a sense of how badly the latest French local elections went for President François Hollande, have a look at today's front page of left-leaning French daily Libération:

The headline means 'The punishment', and it summarises the outcome of the local vote pretty well. According to data from the French Interior Ministry, the centre-right (that is, the opposition UMP and its allies) gained 139 towns with more than 10,000 inhabitants compared to the 2008 local elections. The centre-left (Hollande's Socialist Party and its allies) lost 160. The fact that the Socialist Party managed to retain Paris - where Anne Hidalgo was elected as the city's first female mayor - cannot compensate for what was an unequivocal defeat nationwide.

Marine Le Pen's anti-EU Front National took control of eleven towns - in addition to Hénin-Beaumont, where the party won an outright victory in the first round. Though not impressive in absolute terms (see this blog post from last week for some more background information), the score is nonetheless politically significant. It shows how French voters increasingly see Front National not just as a mere 'protest party', but as a credible alternative for power - albeit so far only at the local level and in a very limited number of towns.

Meanwhile, the immediate consequence of yesterday's local election fiasco is that Hollande is expected to announce a cabinet reshuffle any moment. The French President has just come out of a two-hour meeting with Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault, whose departure looks very likely, judging by the headlines in the French press over the past few days.

Interior Minister Manuel Valls, who enjoys a pretty high approval rating compared to his fellow cabinet members (in part thanks to his tough stance on certain crime and migration issues), is broadly seen as the favourite to replace Ayrault as Prime Minister. Laurent Fabius, currently serving as Foreign Minister, is another name being mentioned by the French media. 

However, in light of the latest macroeconomic indicators, the impression remains that moving a few ministers around will not be enough to restore the French government's credibility vis-à-vis the electorate - unless the policies also change and France makes some real progress in pushing ahead with the reforms needed to restore its competitiveness within the eurozone.


Anonymous said...

Hollande is Europe's equivalent of Mr Bean.

If you vote for Mr Bean then you deserve what you get - which is probably not a lot.

Rik said...

M Feve is simply a political accident. He got the job because people were totally fed up with Sarko. And now they probably would give anything to roll back the time.

Add all the silly promises he made to get elected. Which either have to be broken which is awful for your credibility. Or end in disaster when implemented. Simply a Catch22 when there ever was one.

In time of crisis people usually want a Putin a guy who can deliver. Often with simplified measures that are not helpful in the long run. More prisons, making a stand, bit of nationalism, anti-groups that do no or little harm but donot fit in and that kind of stuff. People like action in times of crisis.

But often end up with an Obama (aka empty promisor no1) a new Messiah that is more or less guaranteed to disappoint.
Or here with the choice between 2 evils and they took the by far worst. Simply because they were fed up with the other one.

Basically the image of this President/government with all those that could get the country out of the manure has been destroyed. Hard to see that it can be corrected, too much damage has been done. With all kind of weirdo stuff that was always to hit massively the international press. Economic is pretty boring so to get media attention add a proper dose of weirdness. That is probably the only thing that really worked there getting media attention. Problem being however that nearly all of it was negative.

Not bad for the UK. Looks like the Frech Lefties are rapidly becoming more Eurosceptic. They looked for a scapegoat that was even less popular then themselves but the only realistic one left was the EU. Putin a clear no go. (As the main candidat for this years Nobel Prize. Ticks all the boxes for that, main problem as I see it didnot really bomb a country (preferably 3rd world)yet. But the Ukraine looks very promissing in that respect).
Even Hitler didnot fit the bill anymore, probably as history lessons all over Europe are complete crap nowadays and it is simply too long ago for people to remember themselves.
The usual replacement Hitler Mme LePen was already leading in the approval polls so was since some time already a no go.

If the entitlement left can come up with a proper candidate they likely could really establish themselves now. Or the Blairish left on the other side. The current party looks vulnerable at both ends.