French Presidential Candidate Hollande – Part 1: They’ll Have to Listen to Me

March 13th, 2012

Published on Spiegel Online International, Interview with François Hollande, March 12, 2012. (Interview conducted by Mathieu von Rohr and Romain Leick; translated from the German by Christopher Sultan).

In a SPIEGEL interview, French Socialist Party presidential candidate François Hollande reacts to German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s refusal to meet with him in the run-up to the election, explains how he would like to renegotiate the European fiscal pact if he is elected and shares why it is unlikely we will soon hear the term “Merlande” if he is elected … //  

… SPIEGEL: You have antagonized the chancellor by demanding a renegotiation of the European Union fiscal pact, which obligated the member states to impose austerity measures. If you are elected, could your first meeting end up being a little embarrassing?

  • Hollande: It won’t be embarrassing for anyone. For me, it will be an opportunity to tell her exactly what I want: a reorientation of Europe in the direction of more growth. This is a necessity that the fiscal pact doesn’t take into account.

SPIEGEL: Does this mean that you would behave like a defiant winner? Or would you more likely be eating humble pie?

  • Hollande: Neither. I have great respect for Mrs. Merkel, as well as for the German people, who, as we know, will go to the polls themselves in September 2013. And everyone knows that I, as a Socialist, have good connections to (Germany’s center-left) Social Democratic Party.

SPIEGEL: You haven’t just upset Mrs. Merkel, but also the heads of other European governments. Aren’t you worried about becoming something of a pariah in Europe?

  • Hollande: Listen, no! I’m just on my way to visit Polish President (Bronislaw) Komorowski, and I’ve already met with President Georgio Napolitano in Italy. I’ve had meetings in Brussels with the president of the European Commission and EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton. Should I go on?

SPIEGEL: We’re talking about those who don’t want to meet with you. Our report that Mrs. Merkel and other leaders don’t want to see you has caused a stir in France.

  • Hollande: I didn’t write that article in SPIEGEL – you can bear witness to that. At any rate, it had two effects. First, the French asked themselves why this intention existed. Second, it led to denials. But it isn’t foreign leaders who will decide the elections for the French people. Perhaps these people did me a service without knowing it.

SPIEGEL: (Former conservative French Prime Minister) Dominique de Villepin called the chancellor’s support for Sarkozy “the kiss of death.”

  • Hollande: I really didn’t ask Mrs. Merkel to arrange my eventual election in this way. But now everyone knows my position on the fiscal pact, and on the day after the election they will have to take it into account. If I become president, France will not continue with the same policies as under Nicolas Sarkozy – both in domestic policy and in foreign and European policy.

SPIEGEL: And so now you’re campaigning in France as the candidate who is confronting Germany.

  • Hollande: I’m also the candidate who knows that the German-French friendship is indispensable for Europe. And I will never let myself be carried away to making statements that would change it … //

… (full interview text).

Part 2: We Need European Bonds;

Part 3: There Will Be a Balanced Budget at the End of My Term;

German-French Relations: Related articles, background features and opinions about this topic.

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