The French Ask If Hollande Governs The Way He Loves

Jan 30 2014, 6:19pm CST | by

The French Ask If Hollande Governs The Way He Loves

France’s unemployment hit a new record, according to the latest report this week from the Labor Ministry, as another 10,200 people in December were out of work, bringing  the total to 3,303,200 unemployed, or 11.1% last year.

Those numbers put an end to any hope that President François Hollande would meet his pledge to lower unemployment by the end of 2013. In fact, it rose by 5.7%.

Much was made of the French public’s apparent indifference to the president’s love triangle, roiling the waters for nearly a full month. Yet, new polls also show  that the French increasingly feel their president is unable to keep his public or private promises.

His popularity, as a consequence, has sunk still lower.

Many stories in the press focused on how the majority of French polled – as many as 77% according to one poll – believe his love life is purely a private matter and should be kept that way. They also emphasize that the French have a higher level of tolerance for their leaders’ “peccadillos” than the English or Americans. Traditionally, private and public in France are supposed to be as separate as church and state.

And yet. If you take seriously the pit bull relentlessness of the digital, print and broadcast media in covering the story, especially with images and analyses, you have to conclude that the French play “cool” for the pollsters, while in reality their guilty pleasure lies in learning about the sordid details of their president’s romantic life.

The political implications, though, are more serious as they wonder if his amorous behavior reflects something about his character in conducting their government’s business.

So concludes The Economist in an article about the “lessons from the Hollande soap opera” during what the magazine called “one of the most bizarre months in modern French politics…France has changed. It is no longer as respectful of the right to privacy as it once was.”

As French publications call into question his capacity for commitment, the French public is questioning its own judgment about his sincerity when considering  allegations that he was already having an affair with the actress Julie Gayet while he was involved with the journalist Valérie Trierweiler who until last week had been acting as the official first lady.

And they point to the pattern in his previous triangle, maintaining the appearance of a stable relationship with Ségolène Royal, a former Socialist presidential candidate and mother of his four children, as he campaigned for the presidency while having an affair with Trierweiler.

In its article The Economist refers to an “astute” analysis in the newspaper Le Monde by the sociologist François de Singly, who argues that ‘the French would have tolerated infidelity in a ‘bourgeois marriage,’ as formalized in the 19th century and practiced by previous French presidents. What they find difficult is the idea of keeping up the appearance of a romantic partnership, which is supposed to be based on mutual love, and treating it as if it were a mere relationship of convenience.”

Some argue his best hope now is that a new program of tax breaks will somehow free him from the love triangles that seem to keep cropping up in his life, although he’ll likely have to wait until 2016 for results.

 

Source: Forbes Business

 
 
 

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