News / Europe

Analysts Debate Whether Hollande Can Fix French Economy

Francois Hollande, April 17, 2012. Francois Hollande, April 17, 2012.
x
Francois Hollande, April 17, 2012.
Francois Hollande, April 17, 2012.
World leaders on Monday congratulated Socialist Francois Hollande on his victory in France's presidential election that saw yet another European leader voted out of office amid an ongoing financial crisis.  But, European financial markets remain volatile, reflecting uncertainty about France's next leader and his economic prescriptions for the country.

As the victory celebrations wind down, France next president, Francois Hollande, faces many challenges.

Addressing thousands of supporters after defeating conservative President Nicolas Sarkozy on Sunday,  Hollande promised justice, equality and a better future for French youth.

Hollande says he wants to raise taxes on the rich and invest more in education, and that he wants Europe to promote growth and not austerity measures to turn around the financial crisis.

But many people question whether the 57-year-old socialist is up to the job.  Hollande has been in politics for years.  But he is an untested leader in troubled economic times.  France's national debt and unemployment are soaring.  And the country's economy is barely growing.

Political analyst Bruno Cautres:

"No one knows exactly the capacity of Francois Hollande to face huge economic problems, to handle the job to be the French president," said Cautres.

But Cautres says Hollande surprised many people during the presidential campaign by sounding increasingly presidential and capable of handling tough issues.

"Francois Hollande presented himself as a normal guy - the one who can calm down all of the anguish of the French population over the economic crisis, with this changing world which is making the French population so [fearful] that eventually we are going to lose the social protection, that we are going to lose the social security that we are very attached to," he said.

On the streets to Paris, Hollande supporters like 24-year-old student Luiza Taiati are overjoyed by their candidate's victory.

Taiati says French leftists have been waiting for 20 years for a Socialist Party president.  Under Sarkozy, she says there has been economic uncertainty, with people having a difficult time making ends meet.

But 33-year-old businessman Juan Pablo Vargas is worried about the future.

"I'm very preoccupied on France and on Europe, especially because we're not sure Germany will continue to finance everything, if Hollande changes all the finances of France," said Vargas. "I'm afraid [that France] might get isolated against Germany.  And if that happens, well, it can be a collapse of the European Union, which would not be good for anybody."

Hollande says he wants to alter a fiscal discipline agreement between 25 of the 27 European Union countries - including financial powerhouse Germany.  After his inauguration next week [May 15],  Hollande is expected to meet with Germany Chancellor Angela Merkel, who is a strong supporter of budget discipline.

Economist Tomasz Michalski of France's HEC business school says Hollande's call for growth is resonating in other European countries, as popular protests mount against economic austerity measures.

"Mr. Hollande is a very smart guy," said Michalski. "He's very precise in his language.  He doesn't want to renegotiate the fiscal compact; he wants to modify and complete it by a growth pact.  And this is where he and Mrs. Merkel can meet."

But Michalski says the Socialist leader is making big promises for France and Europe - promises he might not be able to keep at a time when economic growth forecasts are bleak.

"Mr. Hollande cannot spend himself out of a recession," he said. "He cannot spend more money; he cannot print more money.  The problem with his policies is that in the short run, he may be able to restore budget balance.  But I don't see how on Earth he's going to stimulate long-term growth for France."

In many ways, Michalski says,  Hollande's political fortunes will not depend on his policies, but on external events.  If the global economy recovers, France's president-elect might be able to deliver on his promises.  If not, Michalski says,  Hollande might meet the same political fate as outgoing President Nicolas Sarkozy.

You May Like

UN Watchdog Urges Israel to Probe Possible Gaza War Crimes

More than 2,100 Palestinians, most of them civilians, were killed in a 51-day war in Gaza, along with 67 Israeli soldiers and six civilians in Israel More

New Kenyan 'Thin SIMs' Poised to Transform African Mobile Money

Equity's new technology is approved in African nation for one-year trial, though industry leader Safaricom says thin SIMs could lead to data theft and fraud More

Solar's Future Looks Brighter

New technology and dropping prices are contributing to a surge in solar power More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Talks to Resume on Winter Gas for Ukrainei
X
Al Pessin
October 25, 2014 4:21 PM
Ukrainian and Russian officials will meet again next week in an effort to settle their dispute over natural gas supplies that threatens to leave Ukraine short of heating fuel for the coming winter. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London the dispute is complex, and has both economic and geopolitical dimensions.
Video

Video Talks to Resume on Winter Gas for Ukraine

Ukrainian and Russian officials will meet again next week in an effort to settle their dispute over natural gas supplies that threatens to leave Ukraine short of heating fuel for the coming winter. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London the dispute is complex, and has both economic and geopolitical dimensions.
Video

Video Smugglers Offer Cheap Passage From Turkey to Syria

Smugglers in Turkey offer a relatively cheap passage across the border into Syria. Ankara has stepped up efforts to stem the flow of foreign fighters who want to join Islamic State militants fighting for control of the Syrian border city of Kobani. But porous borders and border guards who can be bribed make illegal border crossings quite easy. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video China Political Meeting Seeks to Improve Rule of Law

China’s communist leaders will host a top level political meeting this week, called the Fourth Plenum, and for the first time in the party’s history, rule of law will be a key item on the agenda. Analysts and Chinese media reports say the meetings could see the approval of long-awaited measures aimed at giving courts more independence and include steps to enhance an already aggressive and high-reaching anti-corruption drive. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rules

European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video Kobani Refugees Welcome, Turkey Criticizes, US Airdrop

Residents of Kobani in northern Syria have welcomed the airdrop of weapons, ammunition and medicine to Kurdish militia who are resisting the seizure of their city by Islamic State militants. The Turkish government, however, has criticized the operation. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from southeastern Turkey, across the border from Kobani.
Video

Video US ‘Death Cafes’ Put Focus on the Finale

In contemporary America, death usually is a topic to be avoided. But the growing “death café” movement encourages people to discuss their fears and desires about their final moments. VOA’s Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Ebola Orphanage Opens in Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone's first Ebola orphanage has opened in the Kailahun district. Hundreds of children orphaned since the beginning of the Ebola outbreak face stigma and rejection with nobody to care for them. Adam Bailes reports for VOA about a new interim care center that's aimed at helping the growing number of children affected by Ebola.

All About America

AppleAndroid