Though it s an obvious clich (and one that has already been used here in a related story last autumn), winning the Elys e may have beenthe easy part for French president-elect Fran ois Hollande. Given the severity of the economic problemsfacing France and its euro-zone partners and the hopes of Frenchvoters and contrasting fears of global financial markets the realwork for the newly elected Hollande now awaits. His biggest task:convincing expectant observers everywhere that his leftist mix oftax-and-spend policies to blunt the pain of debt-cutting austeritywill be responsible and moderate and just the thing needed to liftFrance s stalling economy. He might consider asking U.S.
President Barack Obama whether that s a job he wants to take on, after all. Hollande is expected to take over from Sarkozy sometime before May15. According to his aides, one of his first moves will be to visitGerman Chancellor Angela Merkel . In doing so, Hollande will seek to stress his determination to renegotiate the European Union s debt-fighting fiscal pact to add growth stimulus measures toit.
He ll also reassure her he s not the wild-eyed, spend-happyleftist that critics claim he is. This gesture to re-establish theimportance of the Franco-German partnership in Europe is also meantfor another audience: international financial markets, which were dow n upon opening on Monday, but driven mostly by worries about the Greek elections rather than a Hollande victory analysts say most investors hadtaken as a given. In other words, Hollande will seek to show critics and austeritymilitants that he can reconcile his promises of growth and targetedsocial spending with the priority of balancing France s budget.And that the same must apply for the rest of the euro zone. Fran ois Hollande s position that stimulating economic growthis required for Europe to work its way out of the crisis has becomethe European consensus even if Germany is proving very slow tomove from its austerity-only rigidity, says a Hollande adviserwho preferred not to be named until Hollande’s team hadofficially assumed office. Swing Barrier
Compromise on the fiscal pact is notonly possible, but compulsory. Far from that risking debilitatingconflict in Franco-German relations, it marks an entirely newdirection for Europe as a whole in its struggle to surmount thedebt crisis. ( MORE: French Presidential Election: Marine Le Pen Haunts theSarkozy-Hollande Debate) Critics, of course, denounce that as wishful thinking. They sayHollande s claims to increase state revenues through highertaxes mainly on wealthier people to offset targeted spending willmerely lead France down the same path that landed Greece and Spainin trouble (a rather specious argument, given the vastly differentorigins of those countries financial woes). As a result, analystswill be watching to see what Hollande moves on first among promisesthat include hiring 60,000 new teachers, creating 150,000government-funded posts, lowering the retirement age back to 60 forsome workers, and temporarily freezing escalating gasoline prices. Swing Barrier Manufacturer
Hollande s main objective is to prolong what could be a very shorthoneymoon with a demanding French public, yet still convince themarkets there s a sensible method to what detractors call hismadness of spending to fuel growth. Mindfulness to investors is nolittle detail with France set to sell $15.6 billions in new bondson May 17. Another major dilemma lies in Hollande s selection of a newgovernment as he awaits legislative elections in June. There, too,the signals Hollande sends out may define his margin of maneuveringafterwards. China Parking Control Terminal
The leading candidate for Prime Minister is SocialistParty leader Martine Aubry, an orthodox leftist famous (ornotorious, depending on whom you ask) for authoring France s35-hour work week. Going with Aubry the favorite among likelychoices in opinion polls will be interpreted by voters and marketsas a move to the left. ( MORE: The Future of the Euro: Why Sentiment Alone Can’t Save theUnion ) The second favorite option in polls is Hollande s campaignspokesman, Manuel Valls, a 49 year-old member of the party srightist flank, whose designation as Prime Minister would angerprogressives. Meanwhile, despite holding elected positions, Vallshas never served in a national post a lack of experience Hollandealso suffers.
The other favorite is Socialist parliamentary leaderand moderate leftist Jean-Marc Ayrault. Yet like several similarlycompetent but wonkish contenders, Ayrault isn t the best-known orsexiest figure around another Hollande weakness the new Presidentwouldn t want mirrored in his head of government. Whether due to ideological, policy or popularity reasons,Hollande s choice will inevitably provoke contrasting reactionsamong the leftist, centrist and even occasional conservative voterswho backed his presidential run. Plus, he can t forget rightistopponents. With the Elys e lost and the unpopular Sarkozy out ofthe picture, conservatives will be appealing to voters to let theright retain its parliamentary majority.
That, they say, will allowthe right to form a hostile cohabitation government by opposingHollande s leftist plans with conservative policies and preventingFrance from being entirely ruled by the left. Today, the new President, the Senate, most regions, a very largenumber of departments, (and) many big cities are (controlled by)the left, conservative Ecology Minister and Sarkozy campaignspokeswoman Nathalie Kosciusko-Morizet said on Europe 1 radioMonday. It would be unprecedented in France for all power to beconcentrated under one party I dream of a re-balancing duringlegislative elections. Dreams of reduced austerity pain and renewed growth and contrastingnightmares of increased spending pushing debt loads beyond all hopeloom large in the minds of voters, politicians and marketseverywhere in Europe now. This is one reason why the moves Hollandemakes in the coming days and weeks are likely to shape his entirefive-year presidency.
( MORE: Why Did Merkel Endorse Sarkozy’s French PresidentialRe-election Bid? ).