François Hollande: President-in-waiting?

On Sunday night, the Socialist Party chose François Hollande to lead its bid for the French presidency. Mr Hollande’s winning margin of 12%, while not emphatic, was enough to see off the challenge of current party leader Martine Aubry. In any case, the victory signals the end of a drawn-out, US-style presidential primary that some felt held little democratic value for the party and marks another milestone in the build-up to next year’s elections.

So, now that the Socialists have agreed to rally behind Hollande’s banner, what can we say about the party’s prospects of wresting power from the right?

At the very least, the story of Mr Hollande’s victory makes for an enticing narrative: the cheerful, quiet force that worked for years behind the scenes realised that the time had come for him to step forward and answer his party’s (and his country’s) call. In this tale, Hollande’s character is that of the reluctant hero (and he was reluctant – it was the Strauss-Kahn Affair that forced his hand) who will rescue France from the economic and social turmoil in which she finds herself.

There are many things that make Mr Hollande a worthy presidential candidate. Within the Socialist network, he is widely viewed as a jovial, consensual figure that builds bridges rather than burning them. And in a party that has become better known for its infighting than its policy proposals in recent years, this is a welcome attribute. Moreover, this ability to create alliances rather than produce enmity could be replicated on the national stage – in his memoirs, former president Jacques Chirac described Hollande as a “true statesman”, capable of reaching across political divides.

Hollande is regarded as a safe pair of hands, solid and dependable, a view he actively promotes himself: ‘ma marque, c’est la constance’. In 2002, as party leader, he helped the party move beyond the defeat of Lionel Jospin and the Front National’s shock progression to the second round of the presidential elections.

And if Sarkozy’s approach to governance has been frantic, loud and brash, Hollande would mark a return to the presidential mould of old: an arbitrator sitting above the political battlefield and representing the best interests of the nation. This ‘anti-Sarkozy’ theme has been a central element of Hollande’s campaign and, after five hectic years with Sarkozy at the helm, it will surely strike a chord amongst the electorate.

At the same time, however, it is this same quiet, reserved and self-deprecating character that gives cause for concern. The French satirical television programme, Les Guignols de l’Info, once depicted Hollande as a flan with glasses, and this portrayal highlights what many perceive to be an important flaw in the Socialist candidate’s political persona: a lack of charisma. For while Hollande does indeed appear grounded and dependable, his leadership style is not likely to leave voters brimming with inspiration.

In the current political climate, the danger is that Hollande’s popularity amongst the electorate owes more to a widespread disillusionment with Sarkozy’s politics, than to his own political profile or agenda. Sarkozy arrived at the centre of a whirlwind of activity in 2007; however, his promises to shake up the French economy have remained largely unfulfilled. The anti-Sarkozy theme is shallow, and voters will look for more from any would-be president.

This brings us to his political agenda. Hollande has promised to create 60,000 additional posts for teachers and increase state investment, while at the same time reducing national debt. However, it is not clear how these goals will be achieved at a time when the French economy is being buffeted on all sides by the global economic crisis. Hollande needs to set out a clear roadmap before he meets Sarkozy head-to-head.

Whatever his shortcomings, Hollande is the man upon whose shoulders the hopes of the Socialist Party rest. For most of his political life François Hollande has avoided centre stage wherever possible, preferring to work behind the scenes. However, his victory over Martine Aubry has placed him firmly in the spotlight. And, on the surface at least, he appears to have decided to give the campaign his all. Hollande the presidential hopeful is a leaner, sharper version of Hollande l’homme tranquille and much has been made of his weight loss and snappy suits. With the presidential campaign proper yet to come, it remains to be seen if we can judge the book by its new cover.

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Well my cousin used to discuss French politics with us. He too is a pro for Hollande. -Forex Brokers
happy to choosed mr hollande to be president in france rm

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