France’s new normal

The notion that policies not personality are behind François Hollande’s recent travails represents a fundamental misunderstanding of the French presidency (Why François Hollande’s popularity has plummeted, 2 November). Hollande’s election, on a “Mr Normal” ticket, was a reaction to the excesses of the extravagant Nicolas Sarkozy. The irony is that, minus the bling, President Sarkozy was exactly the kind of leader the French look to – someone to pilot the ship through the hurricane, not to simply wait for better weather.

Hollande’s poll numbers are in free-fall not because of his policies – for one thing, there have hardly been any – but because he is the antithesis of Sarkozy’s strong leadership style. This is not so much hostility to Hollande as a person, but buyer’s remorse – the embarrassed sense that they’ve elevated a middle-of-the road politician to the presidency.

The above comment was published in The Guardian letters on the 5th November 2012.


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