CHANGE is Now or Later? : The Opening of the François Hollande Era in France – an Article by M.Pitter


La Président, François Hollande

MARSEILLE – With the election of François Gérard Georges Nicolas Hollande or Flamby to France’s presidency and with the end of Nicholas Sarkozy’s administration that was renown for its staunch conservatism manifesting itself oftentimes as a xenophobia and a push for more privatization in realms that were hitherto public, the potential may exist for France to undergo a social change that could render not so idealistic the old French motto: liberté, égalité, and fraternité (freedom, equality and brotherhood).

(credit: Michael Pitter/In Parentheses)

An online Time World article dating back to March 8, 2012 featured a quote from the former président, Sarkozy, explaining that France’s “real problem” is that “we have too many foreigners”[1]. A rudimentary interpretation of this quote suggests that Nicholas Sarkozy would rather not have any immigrants living within the French borders, even though his own father, Pál István Ernő Sárközy de Nagy-Bócsa, was born in Budapest. Nevertheless, Sarkozy has indeed maintained within French society a sense of Gaulois provincialism. Speaking the French language does not necessarily suffice for one’s altogether acceptance into French society; for the most part, being racially European, descending from the inhabitants of pre-France or Gaul or at least being able to blend into this status, saves one from the increasingly tautened anti-immigration sentiments and policies of the Sarkozy era.

(credit: Michael Pitter/In Parentheses)

The policies advocated under a president usually reflect their priority commitments to the maintenance of the country. In December of 2007, seven months after Nicholas Sarkozy became the president of France, actions were taken to accelerate the allocation of funds from high schools into the private sphere. According to a June 11th issue of Le Monde, high schools have engaged in the creation of foundations to function as generators of private income not intended for academic use. The primary cause of schools has surreptitiously become financial and not necessarily educational. “Since 2007 and the law on autonomy, universities are entering to join the ‘dance’.”[2] Also under Sarkozy’s administration, in April 2011, the wearing of burqas or niqabs among the Muslim women that do wear them was rendered unlawful in public places. According to the motives of President Sarkozy “the veils are an assault on French values of secularism and equality of the sexes, and now they can no longer be worn in public.”[3] This jargon masked in a benevolence to uphold civil tranquility and egalitarianism only served to achieve the silent passing of Islamophobic legislation.

(credit: Michael Pitter/In Parentheses)

 Flamby, classified as a socialist, supposedly bringing socialistic policy to the French presidency after 15 years of right-wing ideology at the Élysée Palace (France’s White House), has quite the responsibility to give French politics a new face, to detach racism and xenophobia from French life and society. Indeed, there are expectations that vary. Some people anticipate great change, some people foresee the same politics under a different name.

(credit: Michael Pitter/In Parentheses)

A citizen of Marseille of Malian lineage said with confidence and a smile that “I hope” in response to the query of whether Hollande would deliver France a new order, less xenophobic; less tolerant and more accepting. The coming of Hollande to the French presidency resembles very mildly the coming of Barack Obama to the White House solely in the way that the two men came to represent for some in their respective countries the possibility of real change: social and economic. Perhaps these men would render their republics more egalitarian. But of course, a politician is indeed a politician.

(credit: Michael Pitter/In Parentheses)

Another citizen of Marseille, a middle aged woman, manager of a wooden-floored establishment dealing in somewhat ostentatious antiques did not regard Hollande in such an optimistic light. The prospects for social change and economic justice seemed dim for this lady since Hollande “is not a magician”. Nearly offended by the idea that a politician could change the normal order, with closed eyes facing down in a shaking head, she went on to say “If one has money, one will have money, if not, then not” meaning that the skewed distribution of wealth in France, for one, exists regardless of the content inserted into political rhetoric. A man’s charisma and his stint as a president will not change the inequality that has come to characterize the Western world in the years dating back into antiquity.

(credit: Michael Pitter/In Parentheses)

The former ex officio Co-Prince of Andorra, François Hollande took the French office on the sixth of May 2012. Representing the gauche or leftist Parti socialiste, he promised that ‘Change is Now’ as went the campaign slogan. He prevailed over incumbent Nicholas Sarkozy gaining 51.64% of the vote. Some consider the victory a positive for the mere reason that Sarkozy did not win. The loss of figures like Sarkozy and the notorious Marine Le Pen of the extreme-right party Front National (who apparently followed too conservative a tract for the majority of French voters) was the priority concern for many as opposed to the particular victory of Flamby himself.

(credit: Michael Pitter/In Parentheses)

An article in the June 10th issue of Le Monde found that “the victory won by M. Hollande in the presidential election will not have a massive repercussion on the legislature.”[4] Though he has the presidency, his motions may not receive too much support. In such a predicament, one could choose to remain in the favor of those around him. To his immediate left, right, front and back are the banks. According to the June 10th issue of Le Monde, “the leaders of the large French banks ask to be received by François Hollande.”[5] “We’ll see” as most French people agreed. The relationship between the banks and the new président will be an integral factor in the development of the “European (financial) situation” that the bankers deem “particularly serious”.[6] But in regards to how Hollande will handle this situation, most people shrug and say We’ll see.

(credit: Michael Pitter/In Parentheses)

An elderly traveling woman believed that Hollande was “too passive” and that at least all would be well if Marine Le Pen stayed out of Élysée Palace. Again, Hollande’s victory coalesces merely as a neutral occurrence. Perhaps this man is just another politrickster.

A curly gray-haired, randy gentleman, owner of a bar/brothel in Marseille claimed stalwart loyalty to Jacques Chirac, the predecessor of Nicholas Sarkozy. Hollande is the “lesser of two devils” he claims, for, in the end, “Hollande is still a man and politics aren’t real.”

(credit: Michael Pitter/In Parentheses)

Here and now, at the beginning of the François Hollande’s service to France, the world may or may not be surprised by what will follow in the coming days, weeks, months and years. At the 2012 NATO Summit in Chicago, the président said that France had done “more than its duty” in Afghanistan, an opinion that will supposedly precede the total withdrawal of French troops by the end of this year.[7] The ambivalence with which most people regard the new président today will subside after time brings forth the necessity to act and respond to the world’s outbursts.


[1] Crumley, Bruce. “Sarkozy’s Xenophobia: French President Panders to the Extreme-Right.” TimeWorld. 8 March 2012. <http://world.time.com/2012/03/08/sarkozys-xenophobia-french-president-panders-to-the-extreme-right/&gt;

[2] Battaglia, Mattea and Floc’h, Benoît. “Le financement par fondation s’installe dans l’éducation: Le lycée parisien Louis-le-Grand vient de créer une structure pour recourir aux fonds privés.”Le Monde [Paris] 11 June 2012, Société:12.

[3] Beardsley, Eleanor. “France’s Burqa Ban Adds To Anti-Muslim Climate.” NPR. 11 April 2011. <http://www.npr.org/2011/04/11/135305409/frances-burqa-ban-adds-to-anti-muslim-climate&gt;.

[4] Roger, Patrick. “La gauche est favorite, mais quelle gauch?: Les élections législatives devraient donner à François Hollande une majorité dont les contours sont incertains.” Le Monde [Paris] 10 June 2012, France:7.

[5] Michel, Anne. “Les banquiers veulent se faire entendre de François Hollande: Les dirigeants des grands établissements français ont demandé à être reçus par le chef de l’Etat.” Le Monde [Paris] 10 June 2012, Économie:14.

[6] ibid.

[7] “François Hollande: France has done its duty in Afghanistan.” The Telegraph. 21 May 2012. <http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/francois-hollande/9281327/Francois-Hollande-France-has-done-its-duty-in-Afghanistan.html&gt;.

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