Obama, Hollande White House handshake could reshape French politics

U.S. President Barack Obama and French President Francois Hollande will meet at the White House on Tuesday to discuss counterterrorism efforts and ways to fight ISIS. Mabel Berezin, professor of sociology at Cornell University, is an expert on France and European politics and author of “Illiberal Politics in Neoliberal Times: Cultures, Security, and Populism in a New Europe” and “Europe Without Borders.” She says that the visit may provide great optics in France, where Hollande’s tough talk on terrorism is gaining him favor in polls.

Bio: http://www.soc.cornell.edu/faculty/berezin.html

Berezin says:

“The visit may provide great optics for Hollande back in France, where polls have awarded him some favor following the most recent attacks in Paris.

“Before that, Hollande’s approval rating has been on a downward slope since he became president in 2012. There was a brief and small uptick after the Charlie Hebdo events, but the downward slope continued afterwards to a low of 15 percent before the recent Paris attacks. This weekend his approval rating jumped up seven or eight points, depending upon which poll one consults.

“It remains to be seen whether Hollandes’s tough talk and international diplomacy will continue to net him gains in France. The test will come in two weeks, on Dec. 6, when France goes to the polls for regional elections. To date, Marine Le Pen has been leading in polls with her party, the National Front, poised to win in two key regions. A win in either or both regions gives the National Front a much stronger voice, as well as give it the push to deploy its financial resources towards electoral strategies for 2017.

“Marine Le Pen has been ‘talking tough’ for a while now, Hollande has just started. Dec. 6 will suggest whose voice seems more authentic. The results will be heard across Europe.”

Rebecca Valli
O: 607-255-7701
M: 607-793-1025
rv234@cornell.edu

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