Holiday over, headaches remain for France's Hollande
PARIS (AFP) - French President Francois Hollande got back to the office on Monday to be confronted with an in-tray brimming with problems that have only got worse in his time away from the Elysee Palace.
A summer break with his journalist girlfriend Valerie Trierweiler left the 53-year-old Socialist leader looking tanned and relaxed on his return to the capital. But few expect the holiday glow to last as Mr Hollande grapples with a string of thorny economic, political and social issues threatening to derail his presidency.
"There is plenty of work awaiting us," he acknowledged. "It's back to business now. The French want their problems resolved." Easier said than done, analysts suggest. With the euro zone crisis unresolved, the economy flat-lining and unemployment spiralling, Hollande knew before he set off for his Riviera retreat that this autumn would be challenging.
Commitments made at a European Union summit in June mean the government must find 33 billion euros' (S$50.9 billion) worth of public spending savings over the coming year to meet deficit-reduction targets seen as crucial to the health of the ailing euro. That will be a politically delicate task for an administration elected on a promise to boost jobs and growth with a strong base of support among voters employed in the public sector.