Where to now for France and Europe?

French president Francois Holland’s term of office seems to stagger from one crisis to another.He’s had to reshuffle his government twice in quick succession after the resignation of the Prime Minister , who blew a blue fit over the opponents in the government criticizing his financial and economic ideas, and then once a new government had been installed, 10 days later a secretary of state had  to resign for ‘forgetting’ to pay taxes.

That’s not to say his opponents are in a position to take advantage, with Nicholas Sarkozy facing 7 investigations and the UMP under the guise of Mayor of Bordeaux Alain Juppé  (and François Fillion and Jean- Pierre Raffarin) deciding that their UMP leadership election can wait till 2015 (why!). All of this just plays into the hands of extreme parties who push for the dissolution of parliament, which will have a vote of confidence in mid September; Should the Socialist Party lose, then parliamentary elections would take place and the Socialist majority would evaporate in a cloud of public discontent. The big problem is that with no leader in place, no one will vote for ideas anymore, rather they look for a leader.So the UMP’s timetable looks increasingly ridicolous.  

As Hollande is so discredited, rightly or wrongly, people will vote for extreme solutions offering quick solutions which isolate sections of society and create divisions within French society. The FN, who point the finger at immigrants, have forgotten we are all human, and rule with hate and loathing, and the extreme left, PC who want to leave Europe and a return to widespread public ownership and who want workers to have pay increases regardless of the company performance, and point the finger at shareholders who seem to get dividends no matter what the company performance is. France is at a crossroads. Its creaking public services and overwhelming debts have lead to a loss of confidence and its European adventure has seen more debt and less sovereignty. 

What does Hollande need to do to regain credibility? He needs to get unemployment down,and to repay or renegotiate French debt, reinvigorate the economy and persuade the Germans that European interests vastly outweigh German ones, as well as trying to fix the Eurozone currency problems, which need urgent action and face deflationary pressures which will overwhelm the Euro as a currency. The dollar is backed against oil, as oil and planes are all sold in dollars. European economies back the Euro as no major resources are bought or sold in  world markets using the Euro. And in the background he has Islamic state and African problems (Ebola and terrorist activity) well as Israel, Ukraine and Russia to manage.And his ex girl friend just published a kiss-and-tell story of what it was like living with and loving Hollande. The socialist party seems determined to implode or even explode, with infighting caused by the loss of confidence in Hollande’s leadership. On the international stage he seems increasingly isolated, and has had to delay delivery of some warships to Russia due to the Ukrainian crisis.After two and a half years, half way to the end of his presidential term, can Hollande come back from the wilderness, or is he a political lame duck? The latest opinion polls put him below the FN, much to the delight of the press and media. The Huffington Post, (http://www.huffingtonpost.fr/2014/09/05/popularite-francois-hollande-sondages-rentree_n_5770460.html)(run by his ex girlfriend) and Le Figaro (http://www.lefigaro.fr/politique/le-scan/decryptages/2014/09/05/25003-20140905ARTFIG00272-la-rentree-catastrophe-de-francois-hollande.php)(a rightish wing paper) all delight in Hollande bashing. Even Liberation, a left wing paper, isn’t happy. the left want him to be more ‘socialist’ and less fawning to business.

Cynical, liar, anti poor people, all off these are insults hurled at Hollande these last few days. Yet he continues, either in his bubble or his ivory tower, or in his garden. If he’s in the bubble of power, then events will overtake him. Perhaps they already have.The ivory tower means he’s lost touch with his power base and reality. If he’s in the garden, then all he has to do is wait for spring, and the flowers will come. The tide is turning on the Eurozone crisis, but we don’t know if the water is coming in or going out. The truth is probably all three will happen, France will start to see growth next year increasing, whilst unemployment stabilizes at around 11% .

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