Dominique Moïsi: François Hollande ... A French Harry Truman?

Dominique Moïsi is a senior adviser at the Institut Français des Relations Internationales and a visiting professor at King’s College London.

Will military intervention in Mali reveal the real François Hollande? If the country is returning by default – in light of US reticence – to the position of the west’s gendarme in francophone Africa, will its president finally appear presidential in the eyes of French citizens?

Early success in Mali is elevating his standing. This week, a BVA poll shows his approval rating rising from 40 per cent to 44 per cent. Other western powers, as well as African forces, have followed, making France look like a modern global leader.

Yet this enthusiasm may prove shortlived. Before long, we may return to a situation in which the French elite, watching the plunge in Mr Hollande’s popularity since he was elected last May, ask themselves seriously whether their country is becoming like the US, ungovernable as a result of its deepening divisions. Mr Hollande, attempting to be a man for all seasons, appears to fall between two stools. For the right, the Socialist president is too statist and fiscally intrusive; for the true left, too moderate and social democratic. The speed of his fall from grace is unprecedented in the Fifth Republic.

Of course, Mr Hollande set off on the wrong foot...

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