- Socialist and Left Radical Party candidate for the 2012 French Presidential Election
- ‘Bond Vigilantes’ – M&G’s Bond Experts described Francois Hollande, the French socialist widely tipped to beat Nicolas Sarkozy in the 2012 presidential election, as a ‘pretty radical’ candidate from a bond market point of view. They cited his key policy aims which include: Anti-austerity measures, lowering the retirement age, a larger and wider FT tax, and putting the ECB in ‘the service of the real economy’, as the cause for concern.
- To a delirious crowd of around 20,000, the Socialist candidate cited The Bard (William Shakespeare) as he promised to cast off the ennui of the Nicolas Sarkozy era with a new wave of egalitarian idealism.
Hollande told the crowd that the ‘universal message’ he wished to convey would be best summed up through William Shakespeare’s classic line: “They failed because they did not start with a dream.”
However, despite extensive research, British and French journalists were unable to locate the mystery quote in any of Shakespeare’s plays or sonnets. It took a heads-up from the Telegraph’s chief book critic, Nicholas Shakespeare, to halt the search. It turned out Hollande had confused to two Shakespeares, and the line he picked had actually originated from Nicholas Shakespeare’s 1989 novel The Vision of Elena Silves.
It is unlikely to have helped Hollande’s campaign when the public discovered that he had been quoting the lines of a Maoist revolutionary who – in the novel – ends up becoming a terrorist for the murderous Peruvian guerrilla group, Shining Path, whose motto was “Marxism – Leninism will open the shining path to revolution.”
- Hollande’s initial proposals were eagerly awaited by the Sarkozy camp, who hoped to discredit the Socialists as big spenders at a time when public money is extremely scarce. However the carefully designed list of proposals did not raise expectations too high among leftwing supporters, nor give ammunition to his rightwing rivals.
Strong words but careful actions. Hollande is proving a master in placating the competition from more leftwing candidates such as Jean-Luc Melenchon, a former Socialist who has now allied with the surviving Communists to push for a more radical agenda. At the same time he is not giving easy arguments to the right about an unrealistic programme.
His manifesto is not a socialist agenda for the transformation of society but rather a social-oriented rigorous programme from a man who has promised to achieve budgetary balance by the end of his five-year mandate.