Neither did I hear from the U.S. media the story about Francois Hollande’s continuing fall from favor with his citizens in France. It reminds me of another blog I wrote on January 14, 2014 titled “What is the old French saying?” I made the point that U.S. media was not covering the Socialist President Francois Hollande’s fall from favor with the French public because his higher taxes and more social programs for the citizen’s wasn’t working. The mainstream media of the U.S. was reluctant to acknowledge the point that the socialist policies of France weren’t working. Particularly they were reluctant to acknowledge that the Hollande approach that is similar to Obama’s philosophy was failing and comparisons of the two to the American public might be damaging to Obama.
On Monday of this week President Hollande made key shifts in his government trying to quell the unrest of socialist who are opposed to Hollande’s austerity program. That’s right Hollande the great socialist leader has started a program to cut spending, reduce taxes, reduce publicly subsidized social programs and in general match the requirements of the European Union to bring France’s debt into line with the Union’s regulations. Again virtually no coverage from U.S. media.
Still the facts are Hollande has rebels in the ranks, Montebourg was forced to step down as France’s economy minister after publicly criticizing the government’s austerity policies over the weekend. He told daily newspaper Le Monde on Saturday that France should not be “pushed around” by Berlin. “Germany is trapped in an austerity policy that it has imposed across Europe,” he said.
Then in a speech on Sunday, Montebourg said he had pushed Hollande and Valls to make a “major shift” in economic policy. “Given the seriousness of the economic situation, an economy minister has a duty to offer alternative solutions,” he told Socialist Party supporters at a rally in eastern France.
An advocate of cutting taxes and increasing government spending, Montebourg told reporters on Monday that he would not seek a position in the new cabinet – lashing out again at the government’s policies in some of his final remarks as economy minister.
“The entire world is urging us – even begging us – to end these absurd austerity policies that are plunging the euro zone into an economic slowdown,” he said in a statement to the press.
“My responsibility as economy minister is to tell the truth, and observe … that not only are these austerity policies not working but they are also unfair.”
Hollande’s struggles, this forced government reshuffle was further bad news for Hollande, a Socialist, who is already struggling with record-low approval ratings. Hollande is the most unpopular president in the history of France’s Fifth Republic, with approval ratings below 20 percent.
Now halfway through his five-year term, Hollande has also failed to curb France’s record unemployment or its ballooning debt, prompting a growing number of people on the left of his Socialist Party, like Montebourg, to question the soundness of his economic strategy.
France’s economy has stagnated for the past six months, and the government has had to cut its growth forecast to 0.5 percent for this year, half of the already modest estimate it had previously given for 2014.
Both Hollande and Valls say the answer to the country’s economic woes is their so-called Responsibility Pact, which offers businesses tax breaks of some €40 billion in exchange for a pledge by companies to create 500,000 jobs over three years.
Hollande plans to finance the programme with €50 billion in spending cuts, but the plan has angered those on the left of the party – like Montebourg – who argue that the focus should be on cutting taxes to boost flagging consumer spending.
The departing Montebourg acknowledged that he had failed to convince Hollande and Valls that the austerity measures they have implemented were misguided, but insisted that he was leaving on good terms with both men.
You may ask why you haven’t heard of this story in the American press but the only way you could have gotten the information is if like me you went to “French 24” on line. Mainstream media does not want to cover a story that demonstrates the weakness of the socialist message and could possibly have the polices of Hollande rub off on Obama who would if left with a free hand follow a similar strategy himself. Of course with his foreign policy foul-ups he is not likely to be too adventuresome on the domestic front, at least I don’t think he will.