Hollande and his prime minister drift apart


After 20 months in power, relations between French President François Hollande and Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault are showing cracks. Despite a public show of solidarity, in private the two men are at odds over the management of economic and social policies, and Ayrault’s future appears increasingly uncertain. Lénaïg Bredoux traces how the two men have begun drifting apart and hears the views from insiders close to both, one of whom insists: “François Hollande fired Ayrault in December, but no-one knows.”

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The differences between the French president and his prime minister began notably surfacing as of last summer. This has been in part a tactic with which to manage a left-wing parliamentary majority that has been thrown off balance and split by moves like the government's tax breaks-for-jobs deal with business, the Responsibility Pact, and its recent retreat over a planned bill of law on family issues (including making divorce procedures easier and handing greater rights to step-parents) in face of stern opposition by the traditionalist, mostly right-wing and Catholic, lobby. It is also partly down to amateurism, particularly in the management of their public communications.