Annus Horribilus

AyraultThe Holland administration has had, without doubt, a thoroughly horrible 2013.

Indeed, the year of the snake was poised to be the year of all the dangers, with an uncertain economic picture, general social unrest, elections looming the following year, and a government that would little by little no longer be able to blame its predecessors of the problems the country was facing.

2013 was all of those and much worse. A double-dip recession (not statistically but certainly perceived), increasing unemployment, declining real wages, and a highly sophisticated and effective public campaign by the opposition against rising taxation, building an image of incompetence.

There were however breakthroughs, and indications that the government’s policy choices are perhaps not as clubfooted as an increasing number in France and abroad believe. Is that enough in light of increasing dissatisfaction, record unpopularity of the President and Prime Minister and a government that appears to be doubting itself?

Continue reading

Happy Anniversary

It has been a little over a year since the election of France’s second Socialist president. However, now that the left occupy the executive and legislative branches, there seems to be some buyer’s remorse.  Whilst few would have predicted that the return of the left to power would be at a time of economic crisis, social turbulence and an opposition both more divided and more visceral than ever before, added to that are historically low approval ratings, making a dangerous cocktail.

This first anniversary of the Socialist administration has been met with an orgy of circumspection, analysis, debating and soul-searching on the left, the right and centre as to the meaning to be found in the first year of this new Socialist government.  The right has characterised the first year as a “total failure”, with the country verging on collapse. The centre has largely tacked with the right. The far left has screeched at broken promises and betrayal. But where does the truth lies in all of this? Continue reading

A Tale of Two Percentages

Conseil_constitutionnelWith the stroke of a pen, on 30 December 2012, the Constitutional Council annulled François Hollande’s landmark policy of an exceptional tax on earnings over 1 million € set at 75%.  With that, the sorry saga of the 75% tax, is apparently at an end.  But without the 75% François Hollande would likely not have obtained another percentage: 51.64%, beating Nicolas Sarkozy in May 2012.

If Hollande owes his Presidency to his 75% policy, what happens now? Continue reading

With Friends Like These…

In the run up to the Presidential election, messy bargaining was undertaken by the parties on the political left.  The dominant force and favourite to win power, the Socialists, needed to shore up their base by bringing in some of the far left and the Greens.  Deals were done with the Greens, and un uneasy understanding was reached with the Communists.  The remaining archipelago of leftist groups agreed tacitly not to grumble too much, but then they remain largely muted outside of the Presidential campaign.  Today that coalition of the unenthusiastic seems to be crumbling.  How can the Socialists keep them on side; and should they even try? Continue reading