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

Jihadist Assassin says Goal of Tunisia Murders Was Chaos

Abu Muqatil at-Tunusi’s remarks in a propaganda interview also cast light on attack on Bardo Museum More

Russia Denies License to Tatar-Language TV Station in Crimea

OSCE official says denial shows 'politically selective censorship of free and independent voices in Crimea is continuing' More

Kenyan Startups Tackle Expensive Remittances Through Bitcoin

Some think services could give Western Union a run for its money, though others say it’s still got a long way to go More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
For Obama, It's More Business Than Friendships With World Leadersi
X
Aru Pande
April 01, 2015 9:09 PM
The rift between President Barack Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has put a spotlight on the importance of the American leader’s personal relationships with other world leaders and what role such friendships play in foreign policy. VOA's Aru Pande reports.
Video

Video For Obama, It's More Business Than Friendships With World Leaders

The rift between President Barack Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has put a spotlight on the importance of the American leader’s personal relationships with other world leaders and what role such friendships play in foreign policy. VOA's Aru Pande reports.
Video

Video Buhari: Nigeria Has ‘Embraced Democracy’

Nigeria woke up to a new president-elect Wednesday, Muhammadu Buhari. But people say democracy is the real winner as the country embarks on its first peaceful handover of power since the end of military rule in 1999. VOA’s Anne Look reports from Abuja.
Video

Video Tiny Camera Sees Inside Blood Vessels

Ahead of any surgical procedure, doctors try to learn as much as possible about the state of the organs they plan to operate on. A new camera developed in the Netherlands can now make that easier - giving surgeons an incredibly detailed look inside blood vessels, all the way to the patient’s heart. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Latin American Groups Seek Fans at Texas Music Festival

Latin American music groups played all over Austin, Texas, during the recent South by Southwest festival, and some made fans out of locals as well as people from around the world who had come to hear music. Such exposure can boost such groups' image back home. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Stockton Community, Police, Work to Improve Relations

Relations are tense between minority communities and police departments around the United States following police shootings that have generated widely-publicized protests. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports from Stockton, California, where police and community groups are working toward solutions, with backing from Washington.
Video

Video Indiana Controversy Highlights Divergent Meanings of Religious Freedom

Indiana’s state government has triggered a nationwide controversy by approving a law that critics say is aimed at allowing discrimination against gays and lesbians. The controversy stems from divergent notions of religious freedom in America. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Report: State of Black America a 'Tale of Two Nations'

The National Urban League has described this year's "State of Black America" report as a "tale of two nations." The group's annual report, released earlier this month (March), found that under an equality index African Americans had only 72% parity compared to whites in areas such as education, economics, health, social justice and civic engagement. It’s a gap that educators and students at Brooklyn’s Medgar Evers College are looking to close. VOA's Daniela Schrier reports from the school.
Video

Video Film Tells Story of Musicians in Mali Threatened by Jihadists

At this year's annual South by Southwest film and music festival in Austin, Texas, some musicians from Mali were on hand to promote a film about how their lives were upturned by jihadists who destroyed ancient treasures in the city of Timbuktu and prohibited anyone from playing music under threat of death. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Austin, some are afraid to return to their hometowns even though the jihadists are no longer in control there.
Video

Video Ebola Vaccine Trials Underway in West Africa

Ebola has claimed the lives of more than 10,000 people in West Africa. Since last summer, researchers have rushed to get anti-Ebola vaccines into clinical trials. While it's too early to say that any of the potential vaccines work, some scientists say they are seeing strong results from some of the studies. VOA's Carol Pearson reports.
Video

Video Philippines Wants Tourists Spending Money at New Casinos

Tourism is a multi-billion dollar industry in the Philippines. Close to five million foreign visitors traveled there last year, perhaps lured by the country’s tropical beaches. But Jason Strother reports from Manila that the country hopes to entice more travelers to stay indoors and spend money inside new casinos.
Video

Video Civilian Casualties Push Men to Join Rebels in Ukraine

The continued fighting in eastern Ukraine and the shelling of civilian neighborhoods seem to be pushing more men to join the separatist fighters. Many of the new recruits are residents of Ukraine made bitter by new grievances, as well as old. VOA's Patrick Wells reports.
Video

Video Cambodian Land Grabs Threaten Traditional Communities

Indigenous communities in Cambodia's Ratanakiri province say the government’s economic land concession policy is taking away their land and traditional way of life, making many fear that their identity will soon be lost. Local authorities, though, have denied this is the case. VOA's Say Mony went to investigate and filed this report, narrated by Colin Lovett.

VOA Blogs

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More