'His voters feel let down, Hollande has failed them'

Ben McPartland
Ben McPartland - [email protected]
'His voters feel let down, Hollande has failed them'
"What can I do?" Was Hollande's tough first year as president a complete failure? Photo:Yoan Valat/AFP

One year after ousting Nicolas Sarkozy, things are not going too well for President François Hollande. We asked a selection of French people, from senators to academics and members of the public, to pass judgement on Hollande's first year. It does not make for pleasant reading.


On Monday, President François Hollande marks one year since being swept to power on a wave of euphoria.

But since that day, when crowds flocked into Place de la Bastille in Paris, to celebrate the return to power of the Socialist Party after 17 years in the wilderness, Hollande has had a tough time.

How badly has he fared, and how much of that is down to him?  We ask a selection of the French people themselves to run the rule over his first year in power.

Socialist Party Senator Richard Yung

“The economic decisions that Hollande has made have been the right ones.

“I am talking about what we’ve done in the area of social charges for companies, which have been cut by six percent. We have also reached a historic agreement on labour flexibility with the unions and set up a public investment bank.

"What he did in Mali and Africa was also great.

“It’s true, there is an impression that there's no strong force in the central government, with some ministers seemingly expressing their own points of view. We have been criticized for that and we need more strength there.

“But you have to consider that economic times are difficult, and we are hoping that in six months or one year, things will be better.

“This reminds me very much of the situation in 1983 when President François Mitterrand was also facing difficult economic times, when he had to devalue the franc.

He made the right decisions and a year later the country was moving in the right direction. So we have already seen the situation that Hollande is in.”

Score: 6/10

'Hollande has let down his own electorate'

Professor of French Politics, UCL London, Philippe Marlière

"If you consider how the electorate feel, those people who voted for Hollande, then you have to consider his first year a failure because there’s huge disappointment among them. They feel let down.

“A majority of French people voted Sarkozy out, so you can assume they wanted a change in policy, but these people feel as though there’s just been a continuation of Sarkozy’s economic and international policies. That’s why Hollande is so low in the opinion polls.

“It’s a pretty sorry landscape for him to preside over at the moment. He has alienated mainstream socialist supporters. You can see the beginnings of rebellion within the Socialist party. Those people in the party are starting to wake up.

“Hollande had promised during his election campaign that he would take on the financial markets and he clearly hasn’t done that. He had also promised important tax changes, such as the 75 percent rate, but in the end it hasn’t materialized yet either.

“In terms of industry, Hollande and his ministers promised to do everything to save factories such as Florange, but in the end plants are going to close and people will be left without jobs.

“In Europe he has clearly failed to stand up to Merkel. He said he would fight austerity, push for growth and re-energize Europe. But that has completely failed.

“The 'Mariage Pour Tous' reform that legalized gay marriage was an important societal reform, but it’s economic policies that will undo Hollande, and on that point he’s not doing very well.

“One problem for Hollande is that he seems to be surrounded by ministers who are rather weak, including his Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault. There are a lot of inexperienced people in that government.

“Even though many hated Sarkozy, he still had a hard core of followers who supported what he did and didn’t let him down. They liked him even if the overall population didn’t. You don’t see people that are willing to die for Hollande.

It could even get worse for him."

Score: 2/10 - 'on the grounds that to a very large extent he has failed to deliver on his election promises'

The French public, out on the street:

“I think people are judging Hollande too harshly. The economic situation we are in is difficult. He’s hardly going to be able to work miracles and yet he is being punished for this.

The Right hardly did anything when they were in power either". Score: 5/10, Dominique Flequette.

Hollande’s government has proved to be a government of the right, not the left. Just look at what he has done to destroy the workers' code (code de travail).

This is the type of thing that even Sarkozy did not do, but Hollande has gone and done it. That’s why the people are disappointed,” Score: 2/10, Julie, 20, student.

“This Socialist government has proved itself to be pretty liberal and not really on the left at all, so I'm not surprised by Hollande’s ratings.

He hasn't been as bad as Sarkozy but I still have huge doubts.” Score 4/10, Laurent, journalist.


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