Impressing the Press

The French press are an impressively febrile bunch.  Like the British press (although they would never admit stooping so low) they love to build up only to knock down.  Nicolas Sarkozy’s roller-coaster ride, from golden boy in 2002 to the devil in 2012, was more extreme than most.  The general impression one has from looking at a broad cross-section of the French press in its coverage of François Hollande is disappointment, and a little boredom.  The new President isn’t sexy or dynamic.  Even his controversial partner has turned out to be better behaved than they had anticipated.

And so this week’s Presidential press conference was a key test for Hollande.  He didn’t simply have to convey his message to those who were watching at home, but to the most important constituency in modern politics: the Presidential corps of journalists.  So how did he do? Continue reading

Competing over Competitiveness

And so Louis finally handed in his report.  Mr Gallois, who faced, as I have blogged previously, the difficult decision of what medicine to prescribe to an obviously ill patient, published his report on French competitiveness yesterday.  The report was met with suspicion by trades-union, acclaim by the right, the centre and employers’ associations, and consternation by the government.

Ruled out immediately was the suggestion to pursue research into shale gas – a big no-no for the Greens.  However the key measure – finding some other source of financing the social security system by reducing employers’ and employees’ payroll taxes by 20 and 10 million euros respectively – has no become an unquestioned dogma in French politics.  The question is how to pay for it.  So who will the government stick with the bill? Continue reading