French Government Gets Back to Work with France in 2025 in Mind

Ayrault and Hollande Photo: Flickr.com/jmayrault

Ayrault and Hollande
Photo: Flickr.com/jmayrault

On Monday August 19 French President François Hollande welcomed back ministers to the Elysée to debate France’s role in the world with a long-term mindset in a seminar titled “France in 2025.”  Not much of the leadership managed to get away during the two weeks’ recess this month, as Hollande sent a message that his government is not simply relaxing with important work on unemployment, pension reform, and the 2014 budget looming.

The president announced his schedule earlier in the month assuring a “continuity of the state” and of leadership in the month of August, when almost all of France takes a vacation. Hollande and Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault alternated vacationing, each taking a break for only one week and staying very close to Paris. Both leaders took shortened breaks to campaign for the “France in 2025” seminar.

Ayrault was tasked with the job of containing “the power vacuum” that occurs when a president is away from the capital. The prime minister had back-to-back scheduled meetings and appearances in France, which all followed the tune of “France in 2025.”

It is questionable how much of France will notice Hollande’s attempts to show his dedication to today’s serious hot button issues as nearly 62 percent of the population unplugs and travels away for vacation, something that is sacrosanct in France. Over the two weeks, Hollande’s ratings remained unchanged.

Many analysts say that Hollande’s August campaign was precautionary, an attempt to stabilize his falling poll ratings, which are currently at a historical low. His ratings began dropping exactly a year ago, when he was photographed vacationing with his partner at Fort de Brégançon for a couple of weeks. As a result, public opinion vilified the newly minted president for not taking his work seriously or working hard enough.

This time around, in a statement Hollande made the day before his departure he said, “Unemployment does not take holidays, we remain focused.” He showed that his job as president never stops, vacationing only 30 minutes away from the Elysée in Paris. He also asked that his ministers always be available to contact during the summer recess, and advised that they stay in France in order to commute quickly if necessary. Hollande’s show of dedication to working on the issues did not raise his approval rating but merely kept it from falling lower than it already has.

Ayrault took over for Hollande during the week of August 12, stressing the “France in 2025” campaign wherever he went. He kicked off the week by hosting 300 children aged 8 to 12 who did not have the means to go on vacation this summer at Matignon Park. At the event Ayrault said, “Young people and their families who cannot leave for economic reasons also have a right to holidays and culture.” Children came from Paris, Seine-Saint-Denis, Seine-et-Marne, Marne, Aube, and Eure-et-Loir. During the event, the prime minister urged the children to complete a small poster board showing what they would accomplish in 10 years, emphasizing the forward-thinking campaign.

Following his hosting job at Matignon, Ayrault met with workers at Yvelines at five o’clock in the morning on Tuesday. He talked with those working through the night on a tunnel in Velizy-Villacoublay. This appearance fell under a complementary theme: “arduous work,” in honor of the upcoming pension reforms later this month. Ayrault stated that “thinking of France in 2025 is also thinking about the New French Social Model, which includes pensions and taking into account hardship.” The next day, Ayrault met with his advisers and historian-philosopher Marcel Gauchet to reflect on France in 2025 “in globalization.”

Some ridicule the Parti Socialiste (PS) for attempting to convince France that they have a grand plan, a solid strategy, carrying France forward. Many in government have asserted that France has serious emergencies today, implying it is a waste of time to think of the future of France in current circumstances. Deputy judge Nicolas Dupont Aignan and leaders within the UMP such as Nadine Morano and Guillaume Larrivé argue that Ayrault should channel his energy into the France of the present. On his blog, Aignan wrote “As if there weren’t enough to do with France 2013.”

However good news did come in the middle of Ayrault’s working week: the French GDP rose by 0.5 percent in the second quarter according to the INSEE. This is the largest increase since the 1.1 percent recorded in the first quarter of 2011. Minister of Finance Pierre Moscovici said that this improvement “amplifies the encouraging signs of recovery.” Just as the European Union’s recession comes to an end, so does France’s recession. The EU grew slightly less than France at 0.3 percent.

Still, French leaders seem to be teetering on being too optimistic and unrealistic. Following along the theme of “France in 2025” Muscovici stated that “full employment is a realistic goal.” In June, unemployment reached 11.2 percent, indicating that there are over 3.27 million people currently seeking employment.

Trackbacks

  1. […] French President François Hollande welcomed back ministers to the Elysée to debate France’s role in the world with a long-term mindset in a seminar titled “France in 2025.”  Not much of the leadership managed to get away during the two weeks’ recess this month, as Hollande sent a message that his government is not simply relaxing with important work on unemployment, pension reform, and the 2014 budget looming. The president announced his schedule… […]

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