The Socialist government will soon present a bill allowing same-sex marriage. It thought this would be easy, given the support of a majority of French people for the measure (60% according to the latest polls). But the furious reaction from the Catholic Church and conservative parties, expected to culminate during mass demonstrations this Sunday, has surprised even its promoters. Will gay marriage become a new culture war here in France?
It's a new year and hopefully a new chapter for François Hollande. His first six months in office were tough. With unemployment relentlessly on the rise, his popularity at a record low and a humiliating rebuke by France's Constitutional Court of his bid to slap a 75% tax rate on the super-rich, the Socialist president is struggling. Some, and not only in the opposition, are wondering whether he and his team really have what it takes to run the country.
What has changed since France elected its first Socialist president in nearly a quarter of a century? The government has pledged an unprecedented 30 billion euros in belt-tightening, but it'll take a lot more than that to dent the deficit. Meanwhile, unemployment has continued to rise while growth has remained anaemic. Has politics in this country really changed in the nine months since election day?
After six months of Socialist rule in France, it is time to figure out exactly which left is in power. Is François Hollande a traditional leftist or a Social Democrat? Is the government thinking first and foremost about social justice or listening to the wishes of the financial markets? This is not just a theoretical debate, but crucial to understanding where France is heading in the midst of a prolonged economic crisis.