Friday, May 17, 2013

In France, a Beleaguered President Defends His Tenure

Faced with a deepening economic malaise and mounting public dissatisfaction with his leadership, President François Hollande of France said on Thursday that he would “go on the offensive,” promising new measures to reduce unemployment and harmonize economic policies among the countries using the euro.

Mr. Hollande warned that the protracted downturn facing France and other euro zone countries “threatens the very identity of Europe.”

“If Europe does not advance, it will fall, or even be erased from the world map,” Mr. Hollande said. “It is my duty to help bring Europe out of this state of lethargy and fear.”

A year into his presidency, Mr. Hollande has been criticized as lacking a coherent agenda to revive the limping French economy, which tipped back into recession this week. Recent surveys show that a large majority of voters do not feel that their lives have improved under his stewardship, and that about half are unsatisfied with the pace of the economic and social welfare changes he has promised.