The victory of Hollande, in the second round of the presidential duel, is no less than a surprise for Europe, as he had struggled to campaign on a note that many saw as irrelevant and anti-status quo at a time when the continent was gripped in the fissures of a pinching economic recession, and member states have no clue other than to play flute to what the donors had to say. The president-elect’s manifesto of putting an end to self-conceived austerity drives in order to create jobs and promote growth would be a challenge of highest order to manifest. Moreover, he would find himself at odds when he rubs shoulders with German Chancellor Angela Merkel and the like, as they have structured an economic lifeline along with President Nicolas Sarkozy that guarantees protectionism and comes to safeguard the hallmarks of corporatism in Europe.
Hollande has a daunting task to reassure eurozone members that he can stand with his slogan of ending austerity and ushering in growth. Renegotiating the European Treaty on budget discipline, marshaled by his predecessor, would reflect on his leadership qualities and won’t be piece of cake. Forces of exigency and expediency will be at work, as the specialty of Franco-German ties would be up for redoing. The electorate who had waited for 17 years to elect a socialist head of state can’t be taken for a ride if Hollande blinks on his way to restructuring French economy. Hollande who comes in with the drawback of never being in governance apparatus for the last 30 years and was not estimated ever as a visionary, now has an opportunity to deliver.
The history of Europe is testimony to the fact that amateurs voted in with a wafer-thin majority have accomplished wonders. Hollande can be no different. The task shouldn’t be France-specific as there are many other countries in the periphery that look up to Paris for leadership and by virtue of their socialist and neo-liberalist approaches might be wandering in for a collective role to play. Debt-servicing, curbing inflation and generating employment are indispensable issues. But what Hollande would be looked up to is foreign relations, and especially one that keeps Paris away from the mess of going the Washington way in offshore expeditions. As a president of the youth, as Hollande proudly proclaims, he himself is a manifest of Spring in Europe.
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