Friday, May 12, was the last working day of Francois Hollande, outgoing head of the French Fifth Republic, who is set to leave the Elysee Palace a few hours before midnight on May 14, when his presidential powers expire. Radio Sputnik contributor Mikhail Sheinkman reviews what he is leaving to his successor and what legacy he might be stripped of.
Hollande’s days in the Elysee Palace are coming to an end after Emmanuel Macron victoriously swept through the Sunday elections.
The outgoing head of the French Fifth Republic will leave the Elysee Palace a few hours before midnight on Sunday, May 14, when his presidential powers are to expire. Earlier in the day, he will hand the keys to the presidential residency over to his 39-year-old successor Emmanuel Macron.
“Hypothetically, Hollande could have attempted to misbehave in the end. Impose his personal sanctions on Russia, for example, or expel Russia’s diplomats, what he has been doing during the whole of his term, as well as Obama. He could have dared. In case of Marine Le Pen’s victory. But even then he would have needed an order, which is not going to come,” Sheinkman told Sputnik.
There is no doubt that the seventh president of the Fifth Republic will go down in the history of the Fifth Republic, founded by Charles de Gaulle more than half a century ago, for his all-time low approval ratings from the public and as the first of its presidents who chose not to run for re-election.
Last year the long-time socialist reached an all-time low when approval polls gave him just 4 percent, down from 60 percent at the start of his term.
His lack of popularity among the French public forced him not to run for a second term in office.
“Today I am aware of the risks that going down a route that would not gather sufficient support would entail, so I have decided not to be a candidate in the presidential election,” the President said in August.
The French leader also said his time in office taught him “humility” and that he could not stand “to break-up the left”.
Following his remarks, French journal L’Observateur noted that the bombshell revelation marked Hollande’s “political death”.
“It has never been as bad in the Fifth Republic as it is now, with its unemployment, migrants and terrorist attacks,” Sheinkman says.
“It is absolutely unclear who is more lucky in the end. France is left with Macron. However for Hollande, there is no more need to pretend either an orthodox socialist, or a faithful family man or the president,” the political analyst says.
He is leaving France insignificant and unimportant, he says. But in return he gets full board and lodging, not far from the Place de la Concorde, one of the major public squares in Paris.
He will now be faced with the choice of returning to mainstream politics or retiring from the spotlight altogether, recovering peace and thinking that “I made it in life.”
Sheinkman however notes that if Hollande decides to retire from the spotlight he could slip out of the public eye on a comfortable state pension.
He was entitled to a figure of about €15,000 a month ($16,400). In comparison, former president Jaqcues Chiraq at the time received a monthly pension of €31,000 ($33,890).
The chances of Hollande continuing a successful career in politics do not look very likely considering his abysmal approval ratings.
“There will be no more elections, no more career talks in the EU. He will leave the keys to Macron. And that’s it,” Sheinkman says.
“He once said that he will become a simple citizen who would have closely watch what is going on in the country. He had better been such a citizen throughout his five-year term. And probably wouldn’t have needed to leave the keys. Macron now can not only strip Hollande of his presidency but go after his title as the all-time worst French president,” the political analyst finally stated.