Desiring Europe

harlem desirMeet Harlem Desir, the evoquatively named new Europe Minister and former General Secretary of the Socialist Party.  Pity Harlem Desir, who seems fated to do jobs that are just beyond his level of competence. Continue reading

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Yalta

400px-France_fond_de_carte_27_régionsIn two steps, Francois Hollande and Manuel Valls have shaken up the different levels of regional government more than anyone else since the Second World War.  First, the President announced a possible reduction of the number of regions in France, later confirmed to be a desire to halve the current number of 22 in mainland France.  Then Valls announced in his general policy speech that the timeline for this reduction would be short, and that the elected councils in place for the 101 departments would be dissolved.  In addition to the current reform of the groups of towns and villages (the communautes de communes) and the new metropolitan areas encompassing the largest cities, the way France governs itself is set to change radically over the next 5 years as a result of this administrative Yalta.  But how, and will it work? 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

Shame

1850745_3_e4fb_francois-hollande-et-jerome-cahuzac-le-4_a74d414ac4ad8ec942dc00f15809453cIt would appear that shame is an emotion that is not in sufficient quantity in some quarters of French politics.  In a stunning turn of events, the rising star of the Socialist government, Jerome Cahuzac, who resigned from his Budget portfolio last month over allegations that he had hidden money from the tax authorities in a foreign bank account, who had spent months denying the allegations, on radio, television and even in the National Assembly, who had begun libel proceedings against the news organisation that led with the accusations, has now admitted that he has an account with some 600,000 € squirreled away and that he has repeatedly lied to all concerned over its existence.  He has been charged with tax related money laundering and risks prison.

The government is reeling from the betrayal and brazenness of Cahuzac.  What should happen now? Continue reading

After the Interview

Last night, the hysterically hyped interview with President Hollande aired on national television.  It was followed by an evening of commentary and debate.  Whilst Hollande had not made a major television appearance since his press conference of 13 November 2012, which was largely hailed as successful, he has not been absent from the media.  Some outlets recalled that he has made five major appearances now since his election in May 2012.  Add to that numerous speeches  visits and quick answers to journalists, he has scarcely been absent from the evening news.

Yet the grandiose and revered role of the French head of state, both monarch and head of the executive, means that only the most stunning intervention by the head of state will meet the expectations of the press and the people, and last night, by most accounts, the President failed to make a mark. 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