Editorial: François Hollande: plus ça change...

Hollande's boring, but honest image helped him win the presidency, but it didn't take long for misgivings to surface

Share

François Hollande won the French presidency last May for two main reasons.

First, because his campaign pitch of integrity and social justice struck a chord with an electorate unconvinced by the free-market reforms of his predecessor and hard pressed by the financial crisis. And, second, because he came across as boring, but honest, unlike Nicolas Sarkozy.

It did not take long for misgivings to surface. Mr Hollande’s move to raise the top rate of tax to 75 per cent not only provoked some high-profile departures – most notably that of the film star Gérard Depardieu – but was subsequently declared unconstitutional. And even that double defeat pales into insignificance set beside his government’s woes of the past week.

First, his Budget Minister, Jérôme Cahuzac, was forced to resign after admitting that he lied when denying claims that he held a Swiss bank account. He now faces tax fraud charges. Then the former Socialist Party treasurer, Jean-Jacques Augier – responsible for managing Mr Hollande’s election funds – was revealed as having undeclared business interests in the Cayman Islands.

Mr Hollande responded to Mr Cahuzac’s resignation with a pledge that in future all ministers will have to make full declarations about their personal finances. There was already widespread scepticism about whether that was either feasible or sufficient when the stories about Mr Augier broke. Mr Augier has denied doing anything illegal, but Mr Hollande’s promises of government integrity are sounding hollow.

With unemployment remaining stubbornly above 10 per cent, economic growth at a standstill and the popularity that attended the French military intervention in Mali wearing off, a rash of financial scandals is the last thing the beleaguered French President needs. He might console himself, for the time being, with the thought that his plight could be considerably worse, were the Gaullist opposition not divided and Mr Sarkozy not under investigation in a party funding scandal of his own.

Mr Hollande’s ratings, however, suggest an electorate already disenchanted with the president it elected just 10 months ago – with discouraging prospects for the rest of his presidency. Not only, barring accidents, does Mr Hollande have another four years in office. His unpopularity cannot but place him at a disadvantage as he tries to persuade French voters of the need for austerity as a precondition for sound growth in the future.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

IT Project Manager

Competitive: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client based in Chelmsford a...

Business Intelligence Specialist - work from home

£40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: An established and growing IT Consultancy fir...

Business Intelligence Specialist - work from home

£40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: An established and growing IT Consultancy fir...

IT Manager

£40000 - £45000 per annum + pension, healthcare,25 days: Ashdown Group: An est...

Day In a Page

Read Next
Nigel Farage has urged supporters to buy Mike Read's Ukip Calypso song and push it up to the No 1 spot  

Mike Read’s Ukip calypso is mesmerisingly atrocious — but it's not racist

Matthew Norman
Shirley Shackleton, wife of late journalist Gregory Shackleton, sits next to the grave of the 'Balibo Five' in Jakarta, in 2010  

Letter from Asia: The battle for the truth behind five journalists’ deaths in Indonesia

Andrew Buncombe
Indiana serial killer? Man arrested for murdering teenage prostitute confesses to six other murders - and police fear there could be many more

A new American serial killer?

Police fear man arrested for murder of teen prostitute could be responsible for killing spree dating back 20 years
Sweetie, the fake 10-year-old girl designed to catch online predators, claims her first scalp

Sting to trap paedophiles may not carry weight in UK courts

Computer image of ‘Sweetie’ represented entrapment, experts say
Fukushima nuclear crisis: Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on - and may never return home

Return to Fukushima – a land they will never call home again

Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on from nuclear disaster
Wildlife Photographer of the Year: Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize

Wildlife Photographer of the Year

Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize
Online petitions: Sign here to change the world

Want to change the world? Just sign here

The proliferation of online petitions allows us to register our protests at the touch of a button. But do they change anything?
Ed Sheeran hits back after being labelled too boring to headline festivals

'You need me, I don’t need you'

Ed Sheeran hits back after being labelled too boring to headline festivals
How to Get Away with Murder: Shonda Rhimes reinvents the legal drama

How to Get Away with Murder

Shonda Rhimes reinvents the legal drama
A cup of tea is every worker's right

Hard to swallow

Three hospitals in Leicester have banned their staff from drinking tea and coffee in public areas. Christopher Hirst explains why he thinks that a cuppa is every worker's right
Which animals are nearly extinct?

Which animals are nearly extinct?

Conservationists in Kenya are in mourning after the death of a white northern rhino, which has left the species with a single male. These are the other species on the brink
12 best children's shoes

Perfect for leaf-kicking: 12 best children's shoes

Find footwear perfect to keep kids' feet protected this autumn
Anderlecht vs Arsenal: Gunners' ray of light Aaron Ramsey shines again

Arsenal’s ray of light ready to shine again

Aaron Ramsey’s injury record has prompted a club investigation. For now, the midfielder is just happy to be fit to face Anderlecht in the Champions League
Comment: David Moyes' show of sensitivity thrown back in his face by former Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson

Moyes’ show of sensitivity thrown back in his face... by Ferguson

Manchester United legend tramples on successor who resisted criticising his inheritance
Two super-sized ships have cruised into British waters, but how big can these behemoths get?

Super-sized ships: How big can they get?

Two of the largest vessels in the world cruised into UK waters last week
British doctors on brink of 'cure' for paralysis with spinal cord treatment

British doctors on brink of cure for paralysis

Sufferers can now be offered the possibility of cure thanks to a revolutionary implant of regenerative cells
Ranked seventh in world’s best tourist cities - not London, or Edinburgh, but Salisbury

Lonely Planet’s Best in Travel 2015

UK city beats Vienna, Paris and New York to be ranked seventh in world’s best tourist destinations - but it's not London