News / Europe

Analysts Debate Whether Hollande Can Fix French Economy

Francois Hollande, April 17, 2012. Francois Hollande, April 17, 2012.
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

Video Americans, Tourists, Reflect on Meaning of Thanksgiving

VOA garnered opinions from several people soon after November 13 Paris attacks, which colored many of their thoughts

Video Thais Send Security Concerns Down the River

In northern Thailand, the annual tradition of constructing floating baskets to carry away the year’s bad spirits highlights the Loy Krathong festival

Video Tree Houses - A Branch of American Dream

Workshops aimed at teaching people how to build tree houses have become widely popular in America in recent years

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
After Paris Attacks, France Steps Up Fight Against ISi
November 24, 2015 3:04 AM
The November 13 Paris attacks have drawn increased attention to Syria, where many of the suspected perpetrators are said to have received training. French President Francois Hollande is working to build a broad international coalition to defeat Islamic State in Syria and in Iraq. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video After Paris Attacks, France Steps Up Fight Against IS

The November 13 Paris attacks have drawn increased attention to Syria, where many of the suspected perpetrators are said to have received training. French President Francois Hollande is working to build a broad international coalition to defeat Islamic State in Syria and in Iraq. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video US, Cambodian Navies Pair Up in Gulf of Thailand

The U.S. Navy has deployed one of its newest and most advanced ships to Cambodia to conduct joint training drills in the Gulf of Thailand. Riding hull-to-hull with Cambodian ships, the seamen of the USS Fort Worth are executing joint-training drills that will help build relations in Southeast Asia. David Boyle reports for VOA from Preah Sihanouk province.

Video Americans Sharpen Focus on Terrorism

Washington will be quieter than usual this week due to the Thanksgiving holiday, even as Americans across the nation register heightened concerns over possible terrorist threats. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports new polling data from ABC News and the Washington Post newspaper show an electorate increasingly focused on security issues after the deadly Islamic State attacks in Paris.

Video World Leaders Head to Paris for Climate Deal

Heads of state from nearly 80 countries are heading to Paris (November 30-December 11) to craft a global climate change agreement. The new accord will replace the Kyoto Protocol on Climate Change that expired in 2012.

Video Uncertain Future for Syrian Refugee Resettlement in Illinois

For the trickle of Syrian refugees finding new homes in the Midwest city of Chicago, the call to end resettlement in many U.S. states is adding another dimension to their long journey fleeing war. Organizations working to help them integrate say the backlash since the Paris attacks is both harming and helping their efforts to provide refugees sanctuary. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.

Video Creating Physical Virtual Reality With Tiny Drones

As many computer gamers know, virtual reality is a three-dimensional picture, projected inside special googles. It can fool your brain into thinking the computer world is the real world. But If you try to touch it, it’s not there. Now Canadian researchers say it may be possible to create a physical virtual reality using tiny drones. VOA’s George Putic reports.

Video New American Indian Village Takes Visitors Back in Time

There is precious little opportunity to experience what life was like in the United States before its colonization by European settlers. Now, an American Indian village built in a park outside Washington is taking visitors back in time to experience the way of life of America's indigenous people. Carol Pearson narrates this report from VOA's June Soh.

Video Even With Hometown Liberated, Yazidi Refugees Fear Return

While the northern Iraqi town of Sinjar has been liberated from Islamic State forces, it's not clear whether Yazidi residents who fled the militants will now return home. VOA’s Mahmut Bozarslan talked with Yazidis, a religious and ethnic minority, at a Turkish refugee camp in Diyarbakır. Robert Raffaele narrates his report.

Video Nairobi Tailors Make Pope Francis’ Vestments

To ensure the pope is properly attired during his visit, the Kenya Conference of Catholic Bishops asked the Dolly Craft Sewing Project in the Nairobi slum of Kangemi to make the pope's vestments, the garments he will wear during the various ceremonies. Jill Craig reports.

Video Cross-Border Terrorism Puts Europe’s Passport-Free Travel in Doubt

The fallout from the Islamic State terror attacks in Paris has put the future of Europe’s passport-free travel area, known as the "Schengen Zone," in doubt. Several of the perpetrators were known to intelligence agencies, but were not intercepted. Henry Ridgwell reports from London European ministers are to hold an emergency meeting Friday in Brussels to look at ways of improving security.

Video El Niño Brings Unexpected Fish From Mexico to California

Fish in an unexpected spectrum of sizes, shapes and colors are moving north, through El Niño's warm currents from Mexican waters to the Pacific Ocean off California’s coast. El Nino is the periodic warming of the eastern and central Pacific Ocean. As Faiza Elmasry tells us, this phenomenon thrills scientists and gives anglers the chance of a once-in-a-lifetime big catch. Faith Lapidus narrates.

Video Terrorism in Many Forms Continues to Plague Africa

While the world's attention is on Paris in the wake of Friday night's deadly attacks, terrorism from various sides remains a looming threat in many African countries. Nigerian cities have been targeted this week by attacks many believe were staged by the violent Islamist group Boko Haram. In addition, residents in many regions are forced to flee their homes as they are terrorized by armed militias. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video Study: Underage Marriage Rate Higher for Females in Pakistan

While attitudes about the societal role of females in Pakistan are evolving, research by child advocacy group Plan International suggests that underage marriage of girls remains a particularly big issue in the country. VOA’s Ayesha Tanzeem reports how such marriages leads to further social problems.

VOA Blogs