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France

Hollande is ‘nobody’s president’ says former French minister

© AFP, Jean-Sebastien Evrard - Cécile Duflot resigned from Hollande's cabinet in March 2014

Text by Tony TODD

Latest update : 2014-08-21

Former French Housing Minister Cécile Duflot has launched a blistering attack on President François Hollande, calling him the man who “wanted to be everyone’s president, but ended up being nobody’s”.

In a book to be published this week, the former head of France’s Green party (EELV) is profoundly critical of Hollande, blasting his “chronic indecisiveness” while he “spends his whole time setting targets he can never achieve”.

Titled “A Journey in the Country of Disillusion”, Duflot’s book is also an attack on hard-talking Prime Minister Manuel Valls.

After joining the government in 2012, Duflot resigned when Valls was appointed prime minister in March 2014. Her resignation, along with development minister Pascal Canfin, marked the end of EELV’s participation with the Socialist government.

Valls’s policies as interior minister (before he became PM), including the forced dismantlement of Roma camps, were “indistinguishable from the [opposition right-wing UMP’s]”, she wrote.

His policies, she said, had “taken the government hostage” and left it floundering in political uncertainty.

Hollande's woes

The book’s publication comes at a bad time for President Hollande. An Ifop poll for the weekly Journal du Dimanche on August 17 showed that less than one in eight voters has any confidence in his Socialist government.

The poll, published just before he reconvened his cabinet after the summer break on Wednesday, follows bleak news last week that the French economy showed zero growth in the first half of 2014.

Duflot lays the blame for the Socialists’ economic and political woes on Hollande’s indecisiveness and his failure to deliver a coherent political line as he reaches the half-way point of his mandate.

“Hollande generated considerable hope during his [2012] election campaign,” she wrote. “But since he was elected he has been unable to respond to any of these aspirations and has been unable to reinvent himself.

“He wanted to be a president of the left, but failed to connect with his support base. He wanted to be everyone’s president, but ended up being nobody’s.”

She goes on to call Hollande’s failed bids to kick-start the French economy “worse than the fate of Sisyphus”, a reference to the Sysyphus of Greek mythology, who was compelled to roll a rock up an immense hill only to watch it tumble down in a never-ending cycle of failure.

“He talks big and delivers nothing,” she said. “He promised France would achieve the [EU-set] 3% deficit target. He failed. Hollande spends his whole time fixing targets he can never achieve and the effect has been devastating.”

Greens react badly

Duflot, seen by many as wanting to run for president on a Green ticket in 2017, came under sharp criticism Thursday after excerpts of her book were published in weekly news magazine Nouvel Observateur.

Beyond the inevitable irritation from her former Socialist colleagues, many in her own party want to be back in coalition with the government and see her attack on the president as less than helpful.

Jean-Vincent Placé, who is head of the EELV group in the French Senate, told BFMTV that her “extremely severe” criticism of Hollande came at a time when the French left “should be aiming at unity”.

François de Rugy, party leader in the National Assembly where the EELV has only 14 members, told Reuters that the Greens “have to be part of the government if they want to fulfil their political ambitions”.

“We need to be a party of government rather than a fringe protest party,” he added. “Splendid isolation makes no sense at all.”

Date created : 2014-08-21

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