Valls More Likely to Succeed Hollande Than Macron

Mark Rutte, Manuel Valls and Alexis Tsipras, the prime ministers of the Netherlands, France and Greece, meet at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, January 21
Mark Rutte, Manuel Valls and Alexis Tsipras, the prime ministers of the Netherlands, France and Greece, meet at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, January 21 (WEF/Valeriano Di Domenico)

France’s François Hollande is beset by rivals from inside his left-wing coalition. On the far left, former economy minister Arnaud Montebourg is mulling a presidential bid. On the right of the Socialist Party, Montebourg’s successor, Emmanuel Macron, just launched a “movement” that seems to serve no purpose other than to advance the former investment banker’s political ambitions.

But if Hollande is successfully challenged for the left’s presidential nomination, or decides not to run for reelection in 2017 at all, the man currently serving as his prime minister looks like the safer bet. Read more “Valls More Likely to Succeed Hollande Than Macron”

Copé, Macron Highlight Timidity of French Parties

Emmanuel Macron Federica Mogherini
French economy minister Emmanuel Macron and European foreign policy coordinator Federica Mogherini participate in a discussion during the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, January 22 (EEAS)

French economy minister Emmanuel Macron launched a political movement on Wednesday that he says aims to unite people from the left and the right around a program of reform.

Macron, nominally a Socialist, denied that the movement is meant to propel him into a presidential candidacy for 2017, but French presidential hopefuls do have a tendency to launch political “movements” one of two years out from an election.

Macron’s announcement comes only days after former conservative party secretary Jean-François Copé launched his own bid for the presidency. The rightwinger fell out with his former boss and current party leader, Nicolas Sarkozy, in 2014 over a financial scandal and would now seek to deny him the Republicans’ presidential nomination.

Neither Copé nor Macron is likely to end up as a presidential candidate, let alone president of France. But the noise they’re making speaks volumes about the perceived timidity of their respective party leaders: Sarkozy and his successor, François Hollande. Read more “Copé, Macron Highlight Timidity of French Parties”

Hollande Reshuffles Cabinet in Attempt to Unite Left

François Hollande
French president François Hollande speaks with other European socialist party leaders in Brussels, March 19, 2015 (PES)

French president François Hollande reshuffled his cabinet on Thursday in an attempt to unite the left ahead of parliamentary and presidential elections next year.

The Greens, who left Hollande’s coalition in 2014 when he appointed a relative centrist, Manuel Valls, as prime minister, are back. Three of their members got cabinet posts, including party leader Emmanuelle Cossé.

Jean-Marc Ayrault, Valls’ predecessor, also returns. He replaces Laurent Fabius as foreign minister whom Hollande nominated to the job of president of the al Council.

Jean-Michel Baylet, leader of the socially liberal Radical Party of the Left and one of Hollande’s competitors in the Socialist Party’s 2011 primary, was named minister of territorial development. Read more “Hollande Reshuffles Cabinet in Attempt to Unite Left”

Reforms Still Likely to Thwart Valls Presidential Run

French prime minister Manuel Valls arrives for a meeting at the Elysée Palace in Paris
French prime minister Manuel Valls arrives for a meeting at the Elysée Palace in Paris (Sipa/Laurent Chamussy)

Manuel Valls, the French prime minister, is attempting to unify his party, but the very reforms that make him a divisive figure on the left are still likely to stop him from seeking the Socialists’ presidential nomination.

There is little doubt that Valls would be a stronger contender in 2017 than the incumbent, François Hollande. Polls show he would decisively beat the Front national‘s Marine Le Pen in a theoretical runoff and would come close to defeating Nicolas Sarkozy, the conservative former president.

Hollande, by contrast, would lose against both, if he even managed to qualify for the second voting round.

Valls’ problem is his own party. Many on the left see his program of lower business taxes, competition in intercity transport, weaker labor protections and allowing stores to open on more Sundays as a betrayal of the French social compact. Read more “Reforms Still Likely to Thwart Valls Presidential Run”

French Socialists Not Ready to Replace Hollande

French president François Hollande speaks with other European socialist party leaders in Brussels, March 19
French president François Hollande speaks with other European socialist party leaders in Brussels, March 19 (PES)

With the lowest approval rating of any French president in recent history, François Hollande could do his Socialist Party a favor by not seeing reelection in 2017.

The left-wing leader suggested on Monday he would step aside if he failed to bring down unemployment — which has been over 10 percent since he narrowly defeated Nicolas Sarkozy in 2012.

“If there are no results, there can be no credibility for a candidacy,” he said at a Paris dinner hosted by the presidential press association. Read more “French Socialists Not Ready to Replace Hollande”

After Party Name Change, Sarkozy Sets Sights on Rival

Nicolas Sarkozy
Former French president Nicolas Sarkozy attends a meeting of European conservative party leaders in Brussels, March 19 (EPP)

Former French president Nicolas Sarkozy won a political victory this weekend when conservative party members overwhelmingly backed his proposal to rebrand themselves as Les Républicains. A more difficult battle lies ahead: to beat Alain Juppé in the party’s presidential primaries.

83 percent of party members supported the name change; a much higher figure than the 64.5 percent that backed Sarkozy’s leadership bid in November. The former president, who narrowly lost reelection against the Socialist Party’s François Hollande in 2012, looks to be staging an impressive political comeback. Read more “After Party Name Change, Sarkozy Sets Sights on Rival”

France’s Sarkozy Starts Political Comeback

Former French president Nicolas Sarkozy has launched his political comeback, standing for the leadership of his conservative party in what is almost certainly a stepping stone to another presidential bid in 2017.

Le Figaro, France’s leading conservative newspaper, reports that more than half of party members had voted in the leadership contest as of Saturday afternoon. Read more “France’s Sarkozy Starts Political Comeback”

Sarkozy Laments France’s “Humiliation” Under Hollande

Former French president Nicolas Sarkozy said on Sunday he had “no choice” but to return to politics because his country lacked hope and perspective.

“The fifth power in the world should not have to choose between the humiliating spectacle of today and total isolation,” he said. “That is the perspective of the Front national.”

France is the world’s fifth largest economy. Read more “Sarkozy Laments France’s “Humiliation” Under Hollande”

Sarkozy to Return to Politics, Stand for Party Leadership

Former French president Nicolas Sarkozy announced his return to politics on Friday, saying he would stand for the leadership of his conservative Union pour un mouvement populaire. The position could be a stepping stone to another presidential bid in 2017.

In a long Facebook message, the former president argued it would be “a form of abandonment” to remain merely a spectator while the French political debate disintegrated and the opposition remained divided. Read more “Sarkozy to Return to Politics, Stand for Party Leadership”