France: Elysée fears fatal blow to Hollande

As president is facing a number of issues

04 September, 12:26

    (ANSAmed) - PARIS, NOVEMBER 4 - The publication of a book on Thursday could be a ''fatal blow'' to a ''tragic'' presidential five-year term. A French president has rarely faced so many issues. Francois Hollande has indeed become the most unpopular president of the French Fifth Republic amid political failures, faux pas, a terrible economy and now the revenge of a betrayed partner, Valérie Trierweiler. A number of French commentators have likened the head of State to a killed bull.

    Well-informed sources say Trierweiler's book, which hits French bookstores today, makes the Elysée palace ''shiver'' for its potentially ''devastating'' effect on the president. This has nothing to do with a time when Hollande at the helm of the Socialist party had to find a compromise with the old guard, so adamant to reach an accord. He was caught in the middle and had to work to strike a difficult balance. Today, that period must appear to the president like a piece of cake.

    Over the past ten days - as France is celebrating the great national ritual of the "rentrée", as French nationals describe going back to work and school after the summer holiday - Hollande is facing a very tough test, starting with the division of the gauche. The most left-wing ministers have criticized Premier Manuel Vall's economic policies, sparking a cabinet crisis and a hasty reshuffle in which the most turbulent ministers lost their posts.

    The first to lose his job was Arnaud Montebourg, a left-wing 'indignado', known for his speeches against EU policies and in favour of economic patriotism, who was replaced by the more moderate Emmanuel Macron. This was also the week during which Michel Sapin, Hollande's faithful finance minister, as well as a friend who studied with the president, had to recognize that France would not be able to fulfil its budget cut targets, as forecast, for 2015. The reason, he explained, is the low level of inflation. "We cannot pursue the same objectives with an inflation which becomes weak". The consequence is that a number of welfare policies, including pensions and family subsidies, is expected to produce less savings.

    It is thus clear that, in spite of the repeated calls made by Brussels, Paris will be unable to bring down the deficit to GDP ratio within the 3% threshold. "Given the situation, adding more cuts doesn't appear viable", said Sapin.

    Some have alleged that inflation was an excuse to justify the fact that France did not reach an objective it was unable to attain anyway.

    Along with great issues connected to the crisis, unemployment and the budget, Hollande is also paying the price for the significant change in customs, on the domestic front, as portrayed by Le Monde: ''The book by Valérie Trierweiler, which the Elysée fears so much, does not reveal any State secret, it is no bomb, nor a scandal. It is much more: it is an act of death'' - the death of the ''sacredness'' of the figure of the French president. One of the great pillars of the Republique has been progressively tarnished over the past few years, also by new technologies, in a phenomenon where ''everything is mixed up, public and private life, the intimate and politics, in which everything is connected''. Such a diagnosis outlined by Le Monde sounds familiar to Italy.(ANSAmed).

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