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Under New Leadership

2018/2/11 3:00:01
【摘要】       After the run-off polling on May 6, the French presidential election eventually lowered its curtain. Franois Hollande, the 57-year-old Socialist candidate who has been in a leading pos...

  

   After the run-off polling on May 6, the French presidential election eventually lowered its curtain. Franois Hollande, the 57-year-old Socialist candidate who has been in a leading position since the very beginning of the campaign, beat Nicolas Sarkozy, who was seeking re-election, to become the seventh president of France’s Fifth Republic. He is also the first Socialist to occupy the Elysée after former President Franois Mitterrand’s 14-year presidency expired in 1995.
  With no interior dissension within the Left camp or the Right camp, the battle between Hollande and Sarkozy was of unusual sharpness. Hollande topped the opinion polls throughout the campaign, while Sarkozy narrowed the gap step by step. Hollande won the runoff with 51.63 percent of the vote to Sarkozy’s 48.37 percent.
  Looking back at Sarkozy’s term over the past five years, many French people were dissatisfied with the performance of his administration and his personal style. Moreover, impacted by the unprecedented financial crisis in recent years, France is mired with heavy public debt and soaring unemployment. Voters felt disappointed over economic prospects. The Sarkozy administration could hardly absolve itself of all blame.
  During the campaign, Sarkozy boasted his own ruling experience and ability. He said it was his policy that had saved France from falling into the risk of the severe debt crisis along with Greece and Spain. On the contrary, Hollande emphasized social justice. He put forward about 60 new economic programs during the campaign, and presented himself as just the opposite of his rival in his concern for people’s well-being as well as his ability to overcome the current difficulties.
  The result of the election shows though French people do not fully believe in the ability of Hollande due to his lack of administrative experience, they are tired of Sarkozy and eager for change. Also, the modest and fresh image that Hollande tried to present was in sharp contrast with Sarkozy’s flashy and capricious behavior, which also contributed a lot to Hollande’s victory.
  After winning the presidential election, the Socialist Party is very likely to win more seats than other parties in the upcoming parliamentary election and then set up a majority government. French politics could turn a new page.
  Hollande has never held ministerial office, so nothing can prove his governing ability. He is also a new face in the international arena, lacking experience in dealing with external affairs. In the campaign, his opponents said his lack of experience in national government made him unfit for the task of leading the world’s fifth largest economy in a crisis.
  After assuming office on May 15, Hollande does have to face many harsh realities domestically and internationally. How the new president deals with those difficulties has aroused concern of both French people and the international community.
   The primary task for the new occupant of the Elysée might be finding policy answers for the current economic problems of France. The current French economic mal-T a fl i a s w e s is arnodo t tehde i b n a m d ain n t y e r lonn at gi-ot n er aml bsa t c rukc dtruorp al.M c Hollande’s manifesto in the campaign was denounced by his opponents as impractical slogans to keep voters happy. After he takes office, it is true that he has to consider more of the feasibility of his policies. Therefore, an awkward dilemma can hardly be avoided for the new president. His election promises might contradict the reality of the govern-ment’s shrinking fiscal capacity and its aim to cut public debt. The large funds needed to implement his commitments are still in the air. Meanwhile, necessary reforms for overcoming the current crisis might meet resistance from the public, which will eventually hurt Hollande’s intentions of being close to the people.
  Hollande has criticized Sarkozy for accepting the German leadership in the EU, which he said caused France to fall within Europe. He opposed the German-led fiscal treaty for overcoming the EU debt crisis. Hollande claimed that the austerity approach downplays the importance of growth, and he said he would seek to modify the fiscal treaty after taking office. His stance constitutes a challenge for the EU’s efforts in tackling the current debt crisis, which worries the EU, especially Germany. How France under Hollande’s presidency will interact with Germany and what role France will play in the EU, especially in addressing the current crisis, have created suspense for Europe and the rest of the world.
  Hollande pledged to safeguard the maximum French interests in the campaign. Like Sarkozy, Hollande seems not to adapt to the rapid development of newly emerging economies during the process of globalization and has tried to find scapegoats for the current uncompetitive French economy. For example, he has taken a hard-line stance toward the exchange rate of the Chinese currency in the name of “trade balance.” Facing public pressure, Hollande also advocates restricting immigration to cater some right-wing voters. But this stance is against his own party’s principles and might cause controversy among its left-wing supporters.
  Generally, Sarkozy’s foreign policy was inclined to be active in international affairs and the EU integration, in hopes to maintain France’s position as a major power. Therefore, France has to undertake corresponding responsibilities. In facing the complicated international situation, Hollande has to make his own policy options. Should France continue to join hands with Germany to push the EU integration forward while safeguarding its own interests and international influence? Will France continue aggressive intervention in the Middle East and North African affairs? Should France pursue multilateralism, or be in line with its Western camp in global affairs in the future? All will be big tests for Hollande.
  France was the first big Western power that established diplomatic relations with the People’s Republic of China, under the administration of President Charles de Gaulle in 1964. The two shared a lot of political principles in common. Both countries pursue policies of national independence, developing modes of their own and opposing hegemony of superpowers. In the last half century, China and France have kept a good strategic partnership though wee differences exist. It is a kind of valuable historical heritage that both sides should cherish. World situations have changed a lot, but the basis for mutual trust and cooperation doesn’t reduce at all. As a result, SinoFrench relationship returned to track soon after experiencing setbacks caused by the wrongdoing of the French side in the early days of the Sarkozy administration. More proactive efforts to advance Sino-French relationship are expected by the Chinese side for President Hollande. Developing the bilateral relationship on the basis of thinking from the overall situation, reciprocity based on equality, and trying to seek common interests, the Sino-French relationship will benefit people of not only the two countries, but also the whole world.
  

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