10th Dec 2019

French PM skips Berlin meeting after electoral defeat

  • Merkel and Hollande will meet Tuesday, with Hollande wanting to reassure Merkel of his reform plans. (Photo: "The Council of the European Union")

The French socialist government will be digesting its poor local election result both at home and abroad on Tuesday (31 March), as president Francois Hollande visits German chancellor Angela Merkel, while his prime minister has decided to stay in Paris to address socialist deputies.

The entire French cabinet, except for PM Manuel Valls, will be present at the 17th Franco-German summit of ministers in Berlin.

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According to French media, Hollande will try to reassure Merkel that his centre-left government will continue with reforms, despite a fourth electoral loss in a row for his party.

The local elections, held Sunday (29 March) were seen as a trial run for 2017's presidential elections.

Germany is a strong proponent of fiscal thriftiness and has repeatedly urged countries like France to bring government spending in line with its revenues . This clashes with the Left’s traditional view of using government spending to kick-start a struggling economy.

After Sunday's second round of local elections, former president Nicholas Sarkozy's centre-right party has control of 66 departments, while the socialists managed only 34 departments.

Of the departments that voted, 25 switched from centre-left to centre-right, and only one switched the other way. One of the departments that swung right was Hollande’s own political heartland of Correze.

Looking at votes cast, the socialists received 32 percent, the conservatives 45 percent, and Marine Le Pen's National Front received 22 percent.

Although Valls was supposed to go to Germany Tuesday to join Hollande, and to meet with the head of the European Central Bank Mario Draghi in Frankfurt, he cancelled the first and postponed the second meeting.

Valls decided at the last moment “he has to be present” at a meeting of socialist parliamentarians in Paris to discuss the poor results.

Meanwhile, far-left French MEP Jean-Luc Melenchon, said Germany should be stopped from pursuing “Ordoliberalism”, referring to a school of thought from the 1930s that sees the state help achieve free market principles.

Melenchon said Germany is “imposing austerity which is choking activity”, according to Le Figaro. He called on France to “propose another road”.


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