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by Paule Masson

The Yellow Line

Translated Friday 29 August 2014, by Isabelle Métral

After Arnauld Montebourg, Minister for Industry, Benoît Hamon, Minister of Education, and Aurélie Philipetti, Minister of Culture, publicly expressed their opposition to President Hollande and his Prime Minister’s austerity policies, Manuel Valls handed in the resignation of his government and was immediately called upon to form a second government on the “clear line” defined by the president.
And so, after the resounding fiasco of the late « frontline government », in comes the « clear-line » government expressly called for by President Hollande. And yet not the slightest gleam of light on the dark horizon line…

The austerity policies in the name of which a few dissenting ministers have just been dismissed have already proved their devastating effects on the economy. As a result, failure is once more so obviously likely that Prime Minister Manuel Valls has been unable to find candidates to the vacant posts that might have ensured “a left-wing backing”. Neither did any Green accept to join the new team. Even Jean-Michel Baylet, the president of the Radical Party, who in the past has so often co-operated with the Socialists, eventually declined the offer; only Christiane Taubira [1] has clung to her post.

Logically enough, all the big positions on the cabinet are held by a neo-liberal commando : Michel Sapin, a zealot of the “responsibility pact” at the Treasury, and above all, as Minister for the Economy, the brilliant ENA alumnus and former financier Emmanuel Macron, who was until recently President Hollande’s counsellor and as such instigated austerity policies and a drastic cut in public expenses.

When the three former ministers voiced their dissent and exasperation publicly, Manuel Valls was maybe only too happy to seize the opportunity and push through the social-liberal project à la française. “The word “socialist” does not mean anything now,” he had snapped in mid-June. In saying this, he was not sending a trial balloon but asserting with great conviction that the social regulation of capitalism, which had been the foundation on which the Socialist Party had been built, was now outdated. Manuel Valls’ ‘Left’ is neo-liberal, it is rightist.

But he might well have overstepped the line. So brutal is this swing to the right that it might well revive values that have been forced under by party discipline. These last few months have seen dissenting Socialist deputies band together. One of these, Laurent Baumel, said yesterday that “the movement was only just beginning”.

Let us hope that it will invigorate convictions rather than ambitions. So serious is the political situation now that it opens up distinct prospects for rallying a large front.

[1Translator’s Note : Minister for Justice

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