The 2014 French municipal election results proved to be disastrous for President François Hollande.
His Socialist Party’s defeat led to the resignation of Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault, who was under intense pressure from the Hollande and subsequently replaced by Interior Minister Manuel Valls. However, the vital question to consider here is: whose fault was it?
It has now become customary for French presidents to sacrifice their prime ministers in view of public disgust and outcry resulting from their own policies.
In this case, the discontent was over the unflinching 10 percent unemployment rate, seemingly ineffective economic measures, concerns over crime and insecurity, and growing hostility towards immigrants. All this has contributed to a steep decline in Hollande’s approval ratings (currently in the low twenties) which are at a record low for an incumbent president.
The outgoing prime minister was accused of failing to sell the policies or give the French people a sense of direction. Same is the case with the President. A recent Independent article, which dubbed the ousting as ‘blood sacrifice’, quoted a socialist parliamentarian as saying, “If you have a calm and colorless President, you can’t also have a calm and colorless Prime Minister.”
Furthermore, the tensions within the Socialist Party are likely to threaten the President’s grip on Parliament. It will be interesting to see what the future holds for Mr. Hollande’s government.
Under these circumstances, will his decision to get rid of the Prime Minister relieve France of its problems? It certainly does not appear to be so.