Hollande wants to talk about politics. And about the economic recovery. "I have a conviction. It is strong," he says. "If France wants to maintain her influence in the world, if she wants to continue to help make decisions in Europe, and if she wants to remain in charge of her own fate, then she urgently needs to find new economic strength."
These 40-minute presidential monologues always serve the same purpose - to give the French renewed faith in their country's strength. But the way there requires nothing less than a radical change of course - less welfare, more market, more individual responsibility.
Hollande spoke of measures to stoke the economy, of cuts to the national budget and social services, and of a "responsibility pact," meant to lower wage costs for firms by some 35 billion euros ($48 billion). The pay-off which he promises is new jobs.Not, apparently, news, because when the Q&A starts;
As soon as the floor is opened to journalists' questions, the first one comes: Will Valérie Trierweiler be accompanying the president on his trip to Washington at the start of February?
This is what is currently preoccupying France. Hollande's partner has been in the hospital forseveral days with "exhaustion," after a Paris gossip magazine reported an alleged affair between the president and an actress. "I understand you asking the question, and I am sure you will understand when I answer that everyone goes through trials in their private life. It hurts. But I have a principle: private business is dealt with privately."Say, there's a thought! Private business should be left alone. Why don't you go with that, M. Hollande.