ORIGINAL FRENCH ARTICLE: François Hollande loue le modèle allemand
Translated Friday 24 May 2013, by
Invited to the 150th anniversary celebrations of the German Social Democratic Party this Thursday, the French President paid homage to Gerhard Schröder’s labour-market flexibility reforms of 10 years ago
François Hollande was the only one of the very many foreign leaders present to speak from the podium at the Social Democrats’ Leipzig celebrations. In front of the Social Democrats’ (SPD) leader, Sigmar Gabriel, but also in the presence of the Chancellor, Angela Merkel, Hollande praised the reforms that the former SPD Chancellor Gerhard Schröder set in motion in Germany in 2003 to increase labour-market flexibility. Some laud these reforms for having boosted German competitiveness, but they have had the effect of aggravating poverty and widening social inequalities. The reforms remain controversial, including among German Social Democrats.
"Progress also means taking courageous choices at difficult moments in order to preserve jobs and to prepare for industrial change, and that’s what Gerhard Schröder did here in Germany and it’s what has allowed your country to be ahead of the rest," he said, heavily applauded. "These decisions were not easy to take, they might generate controversy, but nothing is built, nothing solid can be built by ignoring reality," added François Hollande. He nevertheless called himself a "socialist" rather than "social democrat" at the time of his big press conference at the Elysée on 16th May.