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What’s for India if France swings to left

Francois Hollande’s stunning victory in the French presidential elections turns European politics upside down. The fact that he has never ever met German chancellor Angela Merkel or that British prime minister David Cameron refused to meet ‘socialist’ candidate Hollande when he crossed the Channel and went over to London to say ‘hello’, suggests a lot. A ‘socialist’ wave is sweeping over Europe — Hollande is leading the 11th ‘regime change’

It is improbable that the German-French axis is going to remain intact. “Austerity is not an inevitability” — these words are from FH’s first speech after he won the election. Most commentators have framed FH’s victory as a challenge to the European Union’s compact on strict budgetary discipline, which carries Germany’s imprimatur. (By the way, on Sunday, Greece also voted for change in the EU’s bailout terms.) 
But the fact is also that FH’s has little room for manoeuvering. Besides, how ‘socialist’ FH is in office remains to be seen. True, he famously said, “my opponent is the world of finance”; or, “I don’t like the rich.” But then, remember Tony Blair who was also ‘centre-left’ when he aspired for prime ministership? 
FH narrowly won. And he got a lot of protest votes. Sarkozy was widely loathed by large sections of French people for a variety of reasons, and the poll turned out to be a referendum on his political personality than about FH’s economic agenda. Sarkozy’s combative style and aggression put off the French but even then nearly half of France voted for him. 
Surely, FH would know that, too. FH is an experienced and shrewd politician who cashed in on the national ‘mood’ with some astute grandstanding. To cap it, he is blessed with a complete lack of track record as a public official at the national level. The point is, we know more about his love life than about his politics. 
The big question is what is there in it for India? The Euro zone crisis no doubt impacts us. Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee listed out the fault lines just 3 days ago — Europe’s lower growth, falling business sentiments, declining capital flows, and exchange rate and stock market volatility with attendant implication for investor confidence. The reshaping of the debate over the Euro zone crisis will be keenly watched in North Block
There is a political moral here, too — the political cost of pursuing economic policies that cater to the rich. (One of FH’s major election pledges is to hike taxes on the rich and on companies that distribute profit to shareholders instead of ploughing it into investment.) 
It can be safely said that he won’t be half as messianic about Syria as Sarkozy has been. France’s alliance with the United States (and NATO) is going to loosen. FH favors fast-tracking the withdrawal of the French contingent in Afghanistan within the year. He also calls for early settlement of the Palestine problem. 
But, his foreign policy agenda remains a big unknown as of now. India may have to mothball the grandiose visions of strategic partnership with France. FH is highly unlikely to be interested in a muscular foreign policy or military adventures as in Libya. On the other hand, India can draw comfort that FH is enthusiastic about the enlargement of the UN Security Council. 
Let us pray that no Sarkozy-era skeletons tumble out of the cupboard in the Elysee Palace relating to France’s arms deals with India. Anything is possible, if there is an iota of truth in the recent disclosures by a former Libyan prime minister that Moammar Gadhafi had financed Sarkozy’s 2007 campaign. 

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7 Responses

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  1. I wont dance dont ask me says

    French Cuisine has lots of Vinegar in it. Wine Ghar means Grape Juice pickled over time.
    Problem? Everybody knows it by the time it is out ya! Its useless to create major changes. It only has mild, temporary effect and everybody are back again in mediocrity and poverty. This time, even deeper. France leftist? The next popular cuisine in the world is cheap Chinese, with tonnes of salt in it. Creates lots of change.
    That’s the idea. To create plastic deformation so many can see the changes.

  2. delamourd says

    Sarkozy was a very bad story that happened to Europe and France.
    He has made a religious oriented politics for France and Europe as he is under jewish influence. Altough he said he was against “COMMUNAUTARISM ” which is the polite word for saying “religious led politics”.
    He thus has steeply engaged France and Europe towards America’s options, and abandonning the traditional independance of France from the Anglo-Saxon world.
    This Era is now over for the next five years only.
    But the pain is there, and the neither the IDEA of France , nor the idea of Europe will survive.
    As an NRI living in France for more than 30 years , I would advise Indians to forget French speaking , to forget everything from France as an ideal in life, and focus on ASIA and India as there are 100 times more opportunities, freedom and peace.
    Indians should keep in mind that in the last ten centuries , Europe has constantly Auto-Destroyed twice a century !!!

  3. RAKESH DIKSHIT says

    There are many conclusions made in this article which are biased or depending mainly on conjecture. The Indian Govt and its representation within France is not an overnight affair. THe Embassade De L’Inde in Paris has benefitted by haivng hosted many a IFS officers and Ambassadors who have cultivated the French with Indian dialogue and affairs. The hosting of SHining India or some such fair a year or two back in France had generated a considerable interst and response form the French which is indicative of their proximity to the India per se. ANd the Military purchase orders placed on Dassault recently can have not gone unnoticed.

    The only factor which keeps India away form France is the high amount of stress laid by the Indian Polity on English and all that has to do with that. It has been only the charm and the affinity of Indira Gandhi when spoke in French to the nation during her vist to France in 1979 was the response seen from that country and what a response it was.
    Needless to say the language of the IFS officers and the MEA officials should also include French and other popular ones to get them across whenever such doubts arise.

  4. Amarjit Duggal says

    “Let us pray that no Sarkozy-era skeletons tumble out of the cupboard”

    I am glad you believe in prayers !

  5. gopal krishnan says

    The fact that FH has said that the “Austerity is not an inevitability” is tactically true. If there is a proper growth story in a capitalistic form of economy, be it inclusive and stopping the unnecessary spending of tax payers money into military and instead helping to increase the talent flow by encouraging more and more young entrepreneures and spending the govt money for welfare of the middleclass/poor etc… will make life easy for any form govt to be stable.

  6. shiblifatmi says

    French have already sent sarkozy into the dustbib which is the right decision. Our destiny is not linked with France or any pother country. Our people are capable and are writing our own future which will be brighter and the so called developed nation will follow our model if they can India’s growth and development is now unstoppable. The next 3/4 decades will be the age of inventions in India and we will be on top of the world. Just wait to see the resurgent India.

  7. Hebbar R says

    No matter what the new Govt in France would mean. If India’s own diplomacy was strong and capable, that could take care of emerging situations, most of which are unknown as of now. But, alas that is not the case. India’s diplomacy has of late been found wanting even in dealing with countries that have been by and large friendly with India and here about France we have a situation where the background is hardly known.

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