It appears that French president François Hollande might not be completely incapable of taking decisive action, after all. Today, he approved a new cabinet and fired his prime minister, Jean-Marc Ayrault, replacing him with the center-left interior minister, Manuel Valls. Though, frankly, this change is coming a little late. Recently, the president suffered humiliating losses at French local elections, which were predicted to be embarrassing, but not this embarrassing: the president’s Socialist Party lost 150 towns to the right and far right (including extreme right Marine Le Pen’s Front National).
The new prime minister is particularly known for his ambitious nature, and hopefully his more decisive nature will kick a frequently waffling Hollande into gear. The president, aware of his historically unpopular status, is looking to shake things up. He is looking to Valls to help him not only bring more vigorous decision-making to the notoriously inefficient government, but also to push business-friendly economic policies, which is particularly important considering the government has been giving entrepreneurs every reason to take their businesses elsewhere, and the economy is lagging. Hollande, who has mostly been all about raising taxes, promised this week to lower them for households, employees, and firms. Unfortunately, he’s been so inefficient and unclear that I’m not sure anyone believes him (the last nail in the coffin for me was when he attempted to ride a scooter “incognito” to go see his mistress like some sex-crazed teenager sneaking out after dark…so presidential).
Suffice to say that France needs some lifting up. Unemployment is high, satisfaction is low. Let’s hope this new cabinet and prime minister can make some productive change happen, and soon. Otherwise, Le Pen might be the one moving on up to l’Elysée after the next presidential election. And that’s a future too horrible to envision, let alone actually face.