Hollande's first 100 days

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Hollande's first 100 days

Hollande's first 100 days
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It has been 100 days since François Hollande stepped onto the red conveyor belt of history and became President of the Republic of France.

He wanted it simple and discreet. He had been nicknamed Mr Normal. Now he was President Normal. It literally rained in his parade, but as it was the Champs Elysées it did not matter so much. He could take it, it went with his modern Socialist image.

He has kept several campaign promises, notably social promises: raising the minimum wage and the back-to-school allowance, not raising VAT, going back to a retirement age of 60 for people who started work early in life.

But he has not convinced the French on the economy and rebalancing the books in the future.

At the weekend, an opinion poll said more than half the country was unsatisfied with his first three months’ performance.

Then, this week, arson and gun attacks on police in the city of Amiens underscored the law and order challenges facing Hollande’s government.

At the same time the Socialist Interior Minister had Roma gypsy camps broken up.

As allegations of heavy-handedness in policing have for years been lain at the conservatives’ door, now the shoe is on the other foot.

The right also criticises Hollande for his stance toward Syria.

“No one says international military intervention is easy,” said former conservative minister Roger Karouchi, “but where is France’s voice?”

Military action, of course, carries both political and hard cash costs, and Hollande wants to haul down the French budget deficit to meet EU targets by the end of his five-year term – and he must agree with the other countries in the block on their next common budget.

To meet a 4.6 percent of GDP goal this year, Hollande has to unveil a 7.2 billion euro package of savings and tax rises, mostly on wealthy households and large corporations.

But Ifop pollster Jérome Fourquet said: “There isn’t a lot to go on that might suggest we’re looking at a record low popularity or a deep falling out of love between the French people and Mr Hollande. We’re sort of in between, still waiting. The French are very worried about the unemployment rate and also our public finances. The moment of truth will probably be in the autumn.”

With unemployment at 10 percent and France expected to slip into recession this year, to reach a 3 percent deficit target next year, the president will need to find 33 billion euros.