April 1, 2014


Manuel Valls: Hollande's action man (Deutsche Welle, 4/01/14)

France's new prime minister is also considered to be a law-and-order type. He won over French hearts with public appearances at disasters and police events. His hard line against illegal immigrants has made him popular at the traditionally conservative interior ministry.

But Valls has opponents among the left. Discriminatory comments against Roma have led to human rights organizations accusing him of hate speech - even the EU reprimanded him. But most French approve of such statements.

"He's an ambitious, energetic politician who doesn't shy away from saying just what he thinks, and he doesn't always express himself with political correctness," Uterwedde said. "This has often fueled internal party conflicts."

As a representative for the right wing of the Socialist Party, Valls continues to butt heads. He sees leftist accomplishments like the 35-hour workweek or retirement at 60 as unviable. He'd prefer to strike the name and practice of socialism from the party name and its program altogether.

"He doesn't represent the socialist mainstream, rather he represents the conservative branch," said Norbert Wagner of the Konrad Adenauer Foundation ( Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung) in Paris. Regardless, Wagner thinks Valls has what it takes to assert himself in the party. "He has the assertiveness - and also the communication abilities," Wagner told DW.

Valls is becoming prime minister to a France in crisis: unemployment is at more than 10 percent, while sovereign debt amounts to more than 90 percent of the gross domestic product.

The new prime minister will be taking up the reins of Hollande's "Responsibility Pact" - involving tax cuts for businesses in an attempt to stimulate job growth - which is extremely unpopular among the left.

Leftists have expressed strong opposition to proposed austerity measures

He'll also have to make progress in cutting sovereign debt. And Valls will need to do all this while facing party and public expectations for policies that are socially friendly. It's no simple task, as Uterwedde pointed out

"You'll need a robust politician, who's not afraid to face criticism and resistance," Uterwedde said. "This path is highly controversial among leftist voters and the left in the party," he added.

Posted by at April 1, 2014 8:31 PM

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