The year has been fraught with difficulties for Hollande

The year has been fraught with difficulties for Hollande

Francois Hollande, France’s president was elected on 6th May 2012, after France voted yes for change, under a banner of red, white and blue, in the backdrop of a spectacular pop concert and champagne festivities. At that time the French people were getting increasingly tired of the UMP party. They had been the main dominant party in French politics for a while. There was a great euphoria when Francois Hollande finally got elected and changed the face of French politics. Or so it was thought.

What has happened during this year for the French people to change their mind about the leader that promised change?

There are ten reasons in which this year has gone badly awry for the French president. If one looks back over the past year the most amazing thing to have happen was the camel he was given by a Mali family, ended up in a stew. He could easily have had his camel shipped over to France and put into a national zoo. It could then be admired by French people too. Obviously this was one blunder that won’t be forgotten in a hurry.

The second reason for a bad year was the trouble he had over his private life. He had his ex wife Segolène Royal on one side of the fence and his girlfriend on the other creating shock waves in the national press. The President and Royal’s son Thomas couldn’t help but participate too by calling the president’s girlfriend Valerie Trierweiler’s behaviour “mind-blowing.”

The third reason was because of the budget that was passed in the EU for 2012-2020. During this time Hollande was reported by countries such as UK and Germany to be weak, and isolated. There were rumours that France had chosen a bad representative for the country. There were also other claims that France, no longer had the same influence over Europe that it once had under socialism.

The fourth reason was his popularity started to plummet. French people quickly lost faith in him. The respect that won him the Presidency started to dwindle. He had tried very hard to charm the French public, but for the moment he is finding it hard to succeed.
The fifth reason and the most poignant are closed factories, and broken promises. Industry in France has had a torrid 12 months under Hollande. The French people have seen plants owned by Goodyear and ArcelorMittal shut down, as well as a petrol refinery in Normandy. His government tried to sell the Goodyear plant, but without success as the CEO of US tyre maker Titan wrote back and said, ‘how stupid do you think we are?’

The sixth reason is the, Nicolas Sarkozy’s comeback’. This has greatly annoyed Hollande. It got worse this March when Sarkozy himself reported to the press that his patriotic duty was to save France from Hollande. It seems that despite Sarkozy being charged with the Bettencourt scandal, he has at the moment increased his lead over Hollande in the polls.

The seventh reason was the expatriation of the country’s millionaires. The 75 percent ‘super-tax’ on the rich was Hollande’s flagship economic pledge during his campaign. Economic crisis polls highlighted public opposition to it and in December 2012 a high court ruled it unconstitutional. It created much relief for several key personalities in France particularly for the French actor Gerard Depardieu.

The eighth reason is the high level of unemployment. The promises he made in reducing unemployment is a joke, it couldn’t get any worse as on April 25th unemployment reached a staggering 3.224 million, breaking the previous record set in 1997, and youth unemployment has reached 25.7 percent.

The ninth reason was Hollande’s pledge to legalize gay marriage. But amid rising unemployment and his refusal to call a referendum, gay marriage became a lightning rod for angry opposition leaders. Even though the Bill was passed, the demonstrations in the French capital descended into a riot on March 24th. This undermined Hollande’s leadership, and brought further distrust by the French people.

Finally the tenth reason was the Cahuzac affair. His former minister and ally evaded tax and laundered money. He even lied to Hollande, and Hollande defended him. Cahuzac immediately resigned and admitted his guilt over these issues. Hollande was accused of knowing about them, and the affair came close to bringing down the government.

Therefore we can see just how bad it was for Francois Hollande during his first year. The only hope for France is that the second year will be much better, and France can reduce its unemployment, and create more job opportunities. At the moment this seems unlikely as the possibility of increasing the age of retirement is back on the agenda for 2013, with the Hollande legacy far from being over.

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