Sunday, 21st December 2014

Does cabinet resignation boost Hollande's power, or reflect weakness?


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French President Francois Hollande gives a speech at the Elysee in Paris, France, July 24, 2014. (Xinhua Files/Chen Xiaowei) A day after his economy minister openly criticized the Socialists' failed economic policy, French President Francois Hollande hit back hard and ordered to form a new executive team in line with the "direction that has defined (the) country."

Already under fire for failure to realize his pledges of better growth and more jobs, Hollande accepted the resignation of the government headed by Manuel Valls, a move likely to help France's most unpopular head of state to defend his gravitas of a statesman.

However, critics said the government resignation mirrored the rifts that weakened the Socialists and exemplified their inability to lead the eurozone's second largest power to sustainable recovery and healthy finances.

The presidency office said in a statement a new cabinet would be formed on Tuesday in response of the Leftist minister Arnaud Montebourg who criticised German austerity measures, saying deficit-reduction measures were crippling the euro zone's economies.

With support rate at just 17 percent, Hollande's swift decision to change his team "would certainly have a positive impact on his image of a statesman after showing that he is a president who is acting," according to Eric Bonnet, an analyst at BVA pollster.

"But, without achieving concrete economic results, this decision won't change a thing," he told Xinhua.

French Premier Manuel Valls had been charged to form "a fighting government," to enter a new phase," whose priority consisted of transforming promises of change, lower unemployment, green economy and more social justice into concrete results.

Five months later, the government resigned "as a consequence of the president's inaction," wrote Francois Fillion, former Premier, in his blog.

"I'm fearing the president would still have take a wait-and-see attitude although he outwardly wants to show authority," he added.

After poor economic data showed that France was lagging eurozone economies in bolstering recovery, discontent grew even in the Socialist party where rebel lawmakers urged a new policy.

The fact is likely to deprive the top Socialist official of a large majority in the parliament and risk to see his reforms in tatters.

Speaking to the daily Le Figaro, Marine Le Pen, leader of the far-right National Front (FN), considered the government resignation as "the last phase in the collapse of the government, the presidency and its policy."

"(Hollande's) decision was not a proof of authority as in reality, his back is against the wall and it won't resolve all the problems," she said, asking the dissolution of the National Assembly.

On Tuesday, Valls will announce the new cabinet which could include new faces form the Green party, according to local reports.

PARIS, August 25 (Xinhua)


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