French politics

The Hundred Days

François Hollande, incumbent France’s president

It’s a symbolic but very important step in French politics and for the recently elected President.

François Hollande “celebrates” his Hundred Days as head of State. This celebration is symbolic but gives first indications on the policies and actions led by the new French President and the Jean-Marc Ayrault’s government.

The Hundred Days is an expression used in France to refer to the Napoleon hundred days of reign just after the exile in Elbe Island, near Italy. The battle of Waterloo in June 1815 ended up his reign definitely, but the expression remained in the posterity in French politics to analyse the executive’s style and actions.

François Hollande told a state of grace and quick upheaval was not to be expected. Carefulness is now put forward as the international and national economical context reminds. Industrial stagnation, unemployment increasing, Euro crisis… the French president and his Prime minister are aware they have a very limited breathing space and they will be judged without any indulgence.

That probably explains the strategy implemented by the current government, what is to say cold thinking to make the good decisions (the least prejudicial, at least). Some people, in the opposition as the ruling majority, consider as a kind of excess of carefulness or a lack of political involvement but in spite of all, François Hollande and Jean-Marc Ayrault are increasingly printing their marks and their governing.

François Hollande and Jean-Marc Ayrault, current Prime minister

As I wrote before, this carefulness of the French executive is explained by an obligation of results. Such an attitude may disorientate or disappointed some French people, which probably explains this recent IFOP opinion poll in which 54% of the surveyed are dissatisfied of François Hollande. This survey should be regarded with distance insofar as it rather indicates an expectation in the opinion which seems to appreciate the new presidential style but want to be convinced, which supposes concrete and visible results.

It is an understandable and logical attitude insofar as François Hollande was elected with the promise of change. This change really started and is in progress but needs time and some distance, to not make the mistakes done by the former majority as arrogance and precipitation. François Hollande warned during the campaign, he would not make empty promises and engage to re-equilibrate the public financings with a spirit of justice and equity.

François Hollande knows he is expected and nothing will be put aside as the opposition is reminding him, tackling his personality rather than his policy. He knows the hardest is coming up with an announcing explosive social context. In fact, the Hundred Days are finally a kind of hors-d’oeuvre before a consistent main plate.