Paris (AFP) – Former French president Francois Hollande accuses his successor Emmanuel Macron of deepening inequality with his pro-business reforms, in the memoirs of his five years in power which go on sale Wednesday.
The 400-page book, “Lessons on Power”, reflects on a tumultuous term in office marked by deadly jihadist attacks and policy u-turns, and throws numerous jabs at the 40-year-old centrist who replaced Hollande last year.
“My government reduced inequalities. This one is worsening them,” writes the Socialist, who came into office in 2012.
Hollande also warned Macron in an interview Tuesday that he was bound to run into trouble with the breakneck pace of his reforms.
“My experience showed me that every time I was able to carry out a consultation and negotiate, I managed to get reforms through,” Hollande told the Nouvel Obs newspaper.
“Every time I wanted to go too fast or too abruptly, I was misunderstood. Negotiation takes more time, but it produces more solid results.”
His intervention comes as Macron faces three months of rolling train strikes in protest at his planned overhaul of state rail operator SNCF, while students are barricading numerous university faculties in anger at his education reforms.
– Betrayal –
“Every presidency is made up of continuities and breaks with the past. He prefers the latter,” said Hollande.
Hollande said the biggest such break from his own policies came in the form of Macron’s strategy of slashing wealth taxes to boost investment, which the government says is balanced with tax cuts for lower earners.
He further warned Macron of showing too much confidence, especially in foreign affairs where the young incumbent has sought to carve out an active role.
“Every president thinks his intelligence means he will be able to play with the forces that are at work,” Hollande said.
“Talking to Vladimir Putin is necessary. But even the most subtle diplomacy quickly finds its limits, when it is not matched by a balance of powers.”
Hollande left power as the most unpopular president in French history, but opinion polls have repeatedly shown Macron plumbing even lower depths at the same point in his term.
Macron’s approval rate currently sits at 55 percent, according to an Ifop-Fiducial poll released Tuesday.
Hollande defended his record, which he said included “a cleaner, reinvigorated economy”.
“I left Emmanuel Macron a France in a better situation than I found it in,” he said.
In the book, he hints at a sense of betrayal after Macron — his economy minister — quit to form his own centrist movement.
“I have always allowed for political competition, but I think it must be done in the open and be honest,” Hollande said.
“Let’s just say that was not the case.”