Faltering Hollande 'reaping what he did not sow'

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French President François Hollande has seen his popularity plummet over recent months, and not only because of the enduring economic and social hardships of the financial crisis; his government’s policies have come under attack as muddled and ill-thought out, and its recent U-turns highlight a perceived lack of clear and coherent political vision. For some of his critics, Hollande is paying the price of his longstanding reticence to develop policies in close consultation with expert academic researchers and thinkers. “Hollande as president reaps what he did not sow when he was First Secretary of the Socialist Party,” commented one academic. Lénaïg Bredoux and Joseph Confavreux report on how Hollande's approach to policy making, in stark contrast to some of his allies, has favoured pragmatism over intellectual theorizing.

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The scene was played out at the end of June in the Elysée Palace, the grand and regal-like offices of the French presidency in the heart of Paris, just days before François Hollande was due on an official visit to Tunisia.