"Two-thirds of the French are disappointed by Hollande," says the caption of a cartoon in Le Canard Enchainé this week. The caricature is of President François Hollande sitting at his office saying in his strangely taciturn way, "It’s quite natural.” Indeed. France’s economic situation has left the Socialist government with nothing to announce but bad news and Le Canard ironizes at length about so many accomplishments. In less than a week the Socialists have moved to cut back summer holidays, increase the VAT consumption tax, push the retirement age move ever backward and, finally, decided to tax diesel as well as gasoline. Can you beat that?
In France, the long summer break is a cherished institution: it can last two months and even if children have longer school days the rest of the year because of it, we cannot reduce it! Especially when the tourism industry rebels as well … So, this is bad news. Increase the tax because of the public deficit, especially by attacking diesel prices: bad news. (For many years French governments have pushed consumers toward cheaper diesel. Some 40 percent of European cars run on it.) And the retirement age? The same Socialists who fought so hard against Sarkozy’s reform proposal in 2010 have now admitted that 62 years of age is not enough. They have to fix it higher, like 65. As Le Canard says, picking up on Hollande’s campaign motto, “Change, it is now” – “Renunciation, it is now.”
So it’s easy to understand why the popularity rating of our president is about the same as for mystery meat lasagna.
— Solène Cressant
(Photo is of kiosk in front of Saint Sulpice on the Left Bank in Paris, France.)