Editor’s Note: In an interview with the Diance Rehm Show, Justin Vaisse speaks about the current situation in France and what the election of Francois Hollande as France’s President means for Europe and the world.
Diane Rehm: And turning to you, Justin Vaisse, during his acceptance speech, Francois Hollande promised to behave like a normal president. What does that mean?
Justin Vaisse: Francois Hollande has campaigned on his contrast with Nicolas Sarkozy. He emphasized that where Sarkozy was impulsive, unpredictable, sometimes ostentatious, he would more behave like the sort of standard, traditional definition of the French president which was set by Charles de Gaulle in the ‘60’s and that he would be precisely predictable, thoughtful, less impulsive and that he would be, for that reason, a better partner for his international counterparts.
DR: What is France’s economic status at this point?
JV: France is not in recession as are, I think about now 11 European countries. Growth has been on par with that of Germany in the recent years, but the situation is much more dire in terms of unemployment, which is close to 10 percent, in terms of deficit which has reached 5.2 percent in 2011 and the debt is now nearing 90 percent of GDP. So the situation is not catastrophic, but it is not good either and there is hope that by embodying the new ‘pro-growth’ consensus in Europe, Francois Hollande could precisely give a jolt to that situation.
[The recent Senate Foreign Relations Committee report on Russian meddling] is a thorough and comprehensive view of Russia’s decades-long political warfare against the West. The lesson learned from Europe, which has borne the brunt of Russian attacks, is that Russia can be deterred but that requires leadership. For that reason, this report would have sent a much stronger message to the Trump administration if it had Republican support. As is, it is an urgent warning and a call to action, but it may fall on deaf ears.
Extreme right-wing and xenophobic tendencies have been for decades a constant and broadly accepted element of Italian political life.