Hollande Won't Have Much Time to Learn on the Job

Agenda-Setting Financial Insight.
May 7 2012 3:42 PM

Hollande Won't Have Much Time to Learn on the Job

134872349
François Hollande, the head of France’s socialist party, was elected on May 6 as the country’s president.

Photo by Sean Gallup/Getty Images

The French have chosen a socialist president without any experience of executive power and little taste or knowledge of international matters. When one considers where the certified “experienced” leaders have led Europe in the last three years, this shouldn’t be much of a worry. But if newly-elected François Hollande thinks he can plan for a few months of learning on the job, the situation in Greece is a pressing reminder that he should cut the training period short.

Hollande campaigned on a programme of moderate reform and little pain, promising to raise taxes for any extra spending he advocates to reduce France’s growing inequalities. His apparent determination to ignore the French economy’s most pressing problem - its lack of competitiveness - is only balanced by the centrist, moderate views he harbours on most things. This has led some to hope that reason should ultimately guide him if and when a serious crisis strikes.

Advertisement

The new French president’s first foreign trip as president-elect will be Germany to visit Angela Merkel. This shows at least that he has the right sense of priorities. The new French leader called during his campaign for more growth and less austerity. As long as he sticks to his promise of putting France’s finance back in order, this shouldn’t be much of a problem with Berlin. The German chancellor, politically weakened by her own electoral setbacks, should accommodate him. Her foreign minister is already talking about working on a growth pact with France - though what he means by that remains fuzzy.

François Hollande has become the symbol of a new phase in the euro crisis created as governments start talking about the future - growth - instead of solely focusing on the past - when austerity was deemed as the only solution. But his leadership and political acumen will be tested before he sets out his detailed ideas for France. Hollande, as head of the second-largest euro zone lender country, will have to explain what if anything he suggests for Greece - and for other troubled euro members. How does he propose to boost growth in cash-strapped economies? And what does he suggest doing in the short run? That’s when he will discover that his new job is not just about the French. 

Read more at Reuters Breakingviews.

Pierre Briançon is Reuters Breakingviews' European editor. He joined Breakingviews.com in 2006 after a three-year stint as Dow Jones Newswires Paris bureau chief.

TODAY IN SLATE

Foreigners

More Than Scottish Pride

Scotland’s referendum isn’t about nationalism. It’s about a system that failed, and a new generation looking to take a chance on itself. 

What Charles Barkley Gets Wrong About Corporal Punishment and Black Culture

Why Greenland’s “Dark Snow” Should Worry You

Three Talented Actresses in Three Terrible New Shows

Why Do Some People See the Virgin Mary in Grilled Cheese?

The science that explains the human need to find meaning in coincidences.

Jurisprudence

Happy Constitution Day!

Too bad it’s almost certainly unconstitutional.

Is It Worth Paying Full Price for the iPhone 6 to Keep Your Unlimited Data Plan? We Crunch the Numbers.

What to Do if You Literally Get a Bug in Your Ear

  News & Politics
Weigel
Sept. 17 2014 8:15 AM Ted Cruz Will Not Join a Protest of "The Death of Klinghoffer" After All
  Business
Moneybox
Sept. 16 2014 4:16 PM The iPhone 6 Marks a Fresh Chance for Wireless Carriers to Kill Your Unlimited Data
  Life
The Eye
Sept. 16 2014 12:20 PM These Outdoor Cat Shelters Have More Style Than the Average Home
  Double X
The XX Factor
Sept. 15 2014 3:31 PM My Year As an Abortion Doula
  Slate Plus
Slate Plus Video
Sept. 16 2014 2:06 PM A Farewell From Emily Bazelon The former senior editor talks about her very first Slate pitch and says goodbye to the magazine.
  Arts
Brow Beat
Sept. 16 2014 8:43 PM This 17-Minute Tribute to David Fincher Is the Perfect Preparation for Gone Girl
  Technology
Future Tense
Sept. 17 2014 8:27 AM Only Science Fiction Can Save Us! What sci-fi gets wrong about income inequality.
  Health & Science
Bad Astronomy
Sept. 17 2014 7:30 AM Ring Around the Rainbow
  Sports
Sports Nut
Sept. 15 2014 9:05 PM Giving Up on Goodell How the NFL lost the trust of its most loyal reporters.