Monday, March 31, 2014
It was a bizarre performance. Hollande appeared in what I assume was the park of the Élysée but shot in such a manner as to obscure the grandeur of the setting and make it look like someone's backyard, with a few scraggly bushes in the background (actually I think he spoke indoors in front of a "green screen," with his image and the inevitable French and European flags projected onto a background of the Élysée park). He did mention that he had just lost the municipals by a historic margin but only at the end, after announcing that he would not waver one iota from the course he had already set, with the Responsibility Pact as its centerpiece. He promised a reduction of social contributions for individuals as well as firms, but he didn't explain how this would square with his commitment to reduce the budget deficit. His discourse remained firmly gestionnaire with a bit of window dressing about not tolerating stigmatization of minorities and a plea for France to overcome its divisions. This seemed a wan plea. In short, the severe sanction of the polls has left François Hollande tel qu'en lui-même il a toujours été: insufficient.