Cautious Hollande unveils 'serious' election manifesto

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Four days after delivering a rousing performance of lofty rhetoric in a keynote speech to supporters at Le Bourget last Sunday, Socialist Party presidential candidate François Hollande has finally presented his policy programme. At a sobre press conference on Thursday, the current frontrunner appeared more concerned about demonstrating his economic competence than with “battling the world of finance”, the promise he made to the cheering party faithful last weekend. Lénaïg Bredoux and Stéphane Alliès report.

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After the lofty Left rhetoric of Sunday’s keynote speech to Socialist Party supporters at the Le Bourget convention centre, home of the Paris airshow, French presidential challenger François Hollande adopted a more down to earth approach when he outlined the details of his policy programme in the comparatively sobre surrounds of the Maison des métallos exhibition and meeting hall in Paris this week.
“On Sunday it was a question of addressing questions of equality and the values of the French Republic. Today he needed to show that he is serious and refuses to give in to the usual clever tricks,” said François Rebsamen, Socialist leader in the French Senate and an ally of Hollande. “We can no longer afford to make budgetary commitments that are subsequently opposed by the markets.”
With a many financial journalists in the audience on Thursday’s presentation, Hollande seemed more concerned about demonstrating his economic competence than about “battling the world of finance”, the promise he made to the cheering party faithful on Sunday. And as a result the policy presentation had something of the ENA elite graduate school (which Hollande attended) about it.
After focusing on his idea of the “French dream” at Le Bourget, Hollande outlined four key principles of his campaign on Thursday – clear thinking to deal with the economic crisis; a desire for change; justice; and clarity on the financing, method and timetable of his programme. He also hammered home his new motto of “bringing the world of finance under control”.
Manuel Valls, Hollande’s communications chief, explained the thinking: “French people expect him to outline a vision rooted in his values, which is what he did at Le Bourget, but also very precise measures, to address the lack of trust in politicians’ public statements.”
He also has to make a distinction between the “French dream, or the idea of progress”, and “inspiring French people to dream, which is not what Hollande is proposing in the current situation”, said Valls.