Sunday 8 December 2019

Conflict on the way for Socialist leader

Market turmoil, diplomatic rows and the prospect of social conflict threaten to hijack Francois Hollande's Socialist French presidency from the outset of his inauguration in 10 days' time.

Mr Hollande's tax-and-spend policies, designed to ease austerity in favour of growth, are deeply divisive within both France and Europe.

After inauguration on May 15 or 16, he has pledged to make Berlin his first foreign port of call. Chancellor Angela Merkel has studiously avoided him during the campaign; they have never met and she vocally backed Nicolas Sarkozy.

The Merkel camp has said it is "not afraid" of Mr Hollande and that a compromise can be reached, but her idea of growth through structural reform and greater labour flexibility is far removed from his plan to borrow more for infrastructure projects.

"The talks have already begun," said a European diplomat. "Hollande is the one making the overtures. He needs friends, he needs Merkel and the euro locks him into a relationship where Germany is dominant." (© Daily Telegraph, London)

Irish Independent

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