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Wednesday 7 December 2016

Step aside Berlusconi, Europe has a new chief clown

In the words of his rival, Sarkozy, Hollande truly is 'the ridiculous president', writes Ruth Dudley Edwards

Published 19/01/2014 | 02:30

Former Italian premier Silvio Berlusconi
Former Italian premier Silvio Berlusconi

Francois Hollande is not just a disaster as President of the Fifth French Republic: he's challenging Silvio Berlusconi for the title of First Clown of Europe.

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Hollande is not flamboyant like the billionaire Berlusconi, whose forced resignation from the prime ministership of Italy two years ago amid myriad court proceedings alleging corruption, fraud and sex with an underage prostitute, had crowds shouting insults like "buffoon", "mafioso" and "dictator". With Hollande, epithets like "wimp", "incompetent" and "joke" would be more appropriate.

Last week, Hollande was forced to admit at a press conference that after 18 months of socialist policies the economy was in crisis and he had perforce turned into a social democrat who would cut business taxes and public spending. French journalists asked polite questions (their penchant for sleeping with politicians is one reason they avoid quizzing them about their private lives) but what was on everyone's mind were Hollande's three lady friends: the politician Segolene Royal, the mother of his four children; Valerie Trierweiler, his First Lady; and Julie Gayet, an actress almost 20 years his junior.

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