A brief encounter with François Hollande, favourite to win the French presidency in Mayby James Macintyre / March 20, 2012 / Leave a comment
Published in April 2012 issue of Prospect Magazine
There was a clue that something was up aboard the 20:01 Eurostar from London to Paris in the small earpieces worn by suited men lurking between carriages while we took our seats. Later, in the bar, which is normally quiet, around 20 people formed a huddle not by the refreshments but around a man holding court and cracking jokes. A closer look showed him to be the likely next president of France come the elections in May, François Hollande.
The huddle consisted of a mildly chaotic briefing with the travelling French media in the buffet car. But Hollande had declined interview requests with British newspapers during his day-trip to London on 29th February, where he met Ed Miliband but not David Cameron or Nick Clegg.
But after a brief negotiation via one of his security guards, the Socialist leader agreed to sit down exclusively with Prospect in his standard-class carriage. Asked if the left in Europe needs to do more to win the fiscal argument in the wake of the “crisis of capitalism,” Hollande said, “I hope to create a new capitalism. If I obtain victory in May, it will be a chance for the left in Europe, not to impose a model, but, it is true, that what we want to do is regulate and control finance,” he continued, pitching a leftist message of the sort the Labour leadership in Britain avoids. “I want to see a new left and a new way,” he said.