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Hollande’s Political Weakness to Deny Him Second Term - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive
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Paris-The French presidency has been passing through political imbalance these days.

This imbalance is reflected in the interactions on top of the state’s pyramid among the three presidencies as President Francois Hollande’s popularity is declining along with his supporters inside the Socialist Party and the left wing party in general.

If the situation remains the same until December, when he will announce whether he will run for re-election next year or not, the current president will be forced to give up the dream of staying at the Elysée Palace for five additional years.

What worsened Hollande’s position was “A President Shouldn’t Say That …,” a book written by two journalists and published on 13 October, which exposed the inner workings of Hollande’s troubled presidency, Islam, football, “cowardly” judges, Nicolas Sarkozy (“the little De Gaulle”) and his tangled relationships with women.

The authors, Le Monde investigative journalists Gerard Davet and Fabrice L’homme, met Hollande for 61 private interviews since the beginning of his term in 2012, reporting often spontaneous and unusually frank discussions.

Hollande’s comments on Islam and immigration, which tend to be in contradiction with expectations from his Socialist electorate, have prompted particular controversy.

Talking about his private life, Hollande also confirmed that he refuses to formalize his relationship with his girlfriend, the actress Julie Gayet, while he is president.

He focused much bile on his predecessor, Nicolas Sarkozy, who is seeking re-election and who he blasts as a money-obsessed “little De Gaulle” full of “vulgarity, meanness and cynicism.”

Hollande sits atop a deeply divided ruling Socialist Party and has not yet declared if he will run for re-election. Should he chose to, he will face several challengers for the party’s nomination.

Many believed that with the publishing this book, Hollande has lost what was left of his credibility and has knocked out his political career.

It wasn’t enough for him to witness his advisers leaving the Elysée Palace one after the other in their search for a position away from him, knowing that Hollande will not stay after presidential elections in May.

In addition to that, Hollande has also started losing those who kept supporting him starting from former Economy Minister Emmanuel Macron, who resigned last month from government to prepare his own potential presidential bid, and reaching Prime Minister Manuel Valls, who started to back off after the publishing of the book.

Valls spoke of the “anger” and “shame” among Hollande’s supporters over his published indiscretions.

“Because of the current political situation, I feel that I have a real responsibility to ensure we, Socialist Party, emerge as strongly as possible from this perilous period,” he said.

Three of Hollande’s former ministers have already announced their own presidential bids, accusing him of betraying the left and failing to tackle mass unemployment.

Moreover, one poll found that Hollande would suffer a humiliating first-round defeat if he attempted to run again for office.

It is rare in France for a presidential race to be so open only months before the first-round vote in April. It is still far from certain whom the main candidates will be.

The right will vote in a primary race to choose its candidate in November, with the former prime minister and mayor of Bordeaux, Alain Juppé, still favorite to win.

However, Sarkozy is closing the gap. Marine Le Pen, of the far-right Front National, is shown by polls to be able to easily make it through to the final round run-off.

The left could stage its own primary race to choose a candidate early next year.