French politics

“Leonarda” or Hollande’s strange but coherent reaction

François Hollande, French president

François Hollande, French president

On the last Saturday, François Hollande reacted about Leonarda, in reference to this 16-year-old Kosovo girl who was deported from France with the rest of her family during a school expedition, in the framework of an administrative procedure. The French president, reminding the law and the deportation procedure were respected, proposed to the young high school student to come back to study but without her parents what Leonarda refused and this compromise provoked very negative reaction within the ruling majority and the opposition both for very different reasons.

Giving his point of view, François Hollande made a very strange decision, interfering in the current issue which has existed for a couple of days due to the controversial deportation. Faced with a Prime Minister (Jean-Marc Ayrault) and a Minister of Interior (Manuel Valls) both in opposition, an embarrassed Parti socialiste and a very critical opposition and far Left, the French leader tried to satisfy everyone as he did when he ruled the Parti socialist as leader between 1997 and 2008. But such a strategy failed insofar nobody is satisfied and convicted by the president’s compromise.

Leonarda, 16-year-old Kosovo girl, in Mitrovica after her deportation from Paris

Leonarda, 16-year-old Kosovo girl, in Mitrovica after her deportation from Paris

Nonetheless, expressing himself in public, François Hollande wanted to act with good intentions, in order to spare himself and his already own restless majority. Faced with the French left contradictions about order and immigration issues and faced with people who defend humanism and people putting republican values and principles first, the French president did not want to hurt anybody to say he is out the debate and he has to gather French people, beyond the opinions and the feelings of everyone.

However, refusing to make a decision really, the French president took the risk to be more exposed and more criticized, giving more arguments to his detractors. He has refused to disown Jean-Marc Ayrault vis-à-vis Manuel Valls, confirming the idea François Hollande is ruling France as he led the French PS in the past and he is unable to make a clear decision, for some people.

High school students protesting against Leonarda's deportation in the streets of Paris, on the last week-end

High school students protesting against Leonarda’s deportation in the streets of Paris, on the last week-end

But, the current situation and François Hollande’s personnality should be taken into account to understand better. Indeed, Hollande has to spare a more and more critical and revanchist radical left led by Jean-Luc Mélenchon, a more and more rebel PS left wing (as the French ecologists) and tackling the Front national which waited to catch him out and would have criticized the French president anyway as the UMP party. In other words, Hollande, due to the complexity of this story, was to be wakened and an absence of reaction was clearly not a solution.

So, taking into account all these data in mind, François Hollande tried to be balanced which was not a success finally. In fact, the issue is not his unsatisfying response insofar as it is only the consequence of a still debate within the French left and the French Parti socialiste mainly about immigration and respect of the republican principles. The French right solved this issue, years ago, sometimes with brutality as in 1996 when the Juppé Government evacuated a church occupied by illegal immigrants or with Nicolas Sarkozy (as minister then president) policy recently. In reality, the French socialists should think about their relationship with the idea of order and values and maintaining their principles of humanism and solidarity both. For information, they could take be inspired by the Parti Quebecois who recently introduced his chart of values and which reaffirms some fundamental principles and is also an electoral weapon for Pauline Marois’ government in the framework of more and more probable early elections.