This week marked the first 100 days of Francois Hollande’s term as President of France. Euronews brought a short analysis (and French media sported some polling – which I won’t relate to here as I know this much to be true: There are three kinds of lies: Lies, damned lies and statistics) outlining the main challenges facing Hollande. And guess what: Israel is not on the list. The French economy, domestic policy regarding law and order, and the unemployment are the top three.
(Photo credits: The official website of the President of the Republic)
Now, I don’t live in France and I can’t tell you if Hollande is doing a good job (some polling says he is, other that he isn’t – hence the disclaimer above). But I am bringing it up because Israeli media’s reaction to his election is epitomised in the title to the Ha’aretz coverage from May : Will France’s new president Francois Hollande be good for Israel?
And I know that’s the natural question for any country to ask – in Europe they asked the same thing, especially about the EU and how the financial crisis would be handled in a post-Merkozy* era…
So far, I think we can say – he hasn’t been bad for Israel. As predicted by INSS’ Shimon Stein (The King is Dead; Long Live the King: The French Presidential Elections, INSS Insight No. 333, May 11, 2012):
An examination of the president-elect’s statements and platform show that any change expected in foreign relations will be in style more than in content. Regarding Iran, for example, Hollande has made it clear that alongside negotiations with the international community Iran must be made to understand, via sanctions, that France is opposed to Iran attaining nuclear weapons.
Regarding Iran, France has stood by the sanctions regime introduced by the EU, and their position in the P5+1 negotiations hasn’t changed.
But no one really speaks about that, because it’s the economy, not foreign policy that elects presidents (hint hint to future posts on the upcoming American elections).
Hollande and Merkel have recently vowed to “do everything” to defend the euro zone and urged all European institutions to “fulfill their obligations,” (Wall Street Journal – Europe, July 27, 2012) and after a bumpy start, things are looking up for the German-French partnership attempting to prevent EU from collapsing.
In France, Hollande has passed a radical new financial legislation but is still short of the money he’ll need to stabilise the national budget for 2013 (full analysis here, Bloomberg August 1, 2012).
How this plays out vis-a-vis Israel is hardly on anyone’s list of priorities on Champs Elysées. Nor should it be.