Everybody’s Talking About Louis

Louis Gallois is an interesting character.  A leading figure of the centre left, he has spent most of his career, after a stint behind the scenes in government, leading massive industrial machines: the SNCF national railway operator, and EADS, the aviation giant that owns Airbus.  He also might be the most stereotypically French looking man since General de Gaulle.

This is a man with Socialist sympathies who knows business, particularly international business.  It was therefore with some confidence that the government announced that he would take the role of Investment Commissioner and produce a report on competitiveness in the French economy, which would propose measures that the government would use as a blueprint for reforming the economy.  Now as leaks and rumours seem to be spiralling out of control, the government appears to be backpedaling on the importance of the report and the media is using it to bludgeon the President and Prime Minister.  And it hasn’t even been published yet.  What went wrong, and what should the government do? Continue reading

The Communications Game

Plummeting poll numbers this month have forced a rethink by the government in their approach to communicating the long promised “change”. In the face of accusations by the right of inertia and dithering and media sniping about ministers at war with each other,  a frustrated government has realised it is not enough to develop policy under the radar and allow the media to busy itself.

The perception that hangs around the President and the Prime Minister now is however a direct consequence, not of weakness in government, but of five years of a hyperactive government that appeared to announce more than it actually did. How can the new government dig itself out of its hole? Continue reading

Taxing their Patience

Tax policy is the most effective and visible weapon of any government in a liberal democracy (the army being the weapon of choice of less democratic regimes).  This week the fiscal tanks rolled in to the French economy, with President Hollande’s government unveiling its draft budget for 2013.

Whilst the budget contains no big surprises, two changes in particular have led to outcries and backpedaling by the government within the first few days of its publication.  Now the government is playing catch-up, looking accident-prone as well as punitive.  Is the pillorying of Finance Minister Pierre Moscovici, and the Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault by the press fair? Continue reading