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France's "normal" president - what's that?

By Johnny Summerton
Posted May 22, 2012 in Politics
"Normal" was a word used a lot during the run-up to this year's presidential elections in France: François Hollande's proclaimed desire to be a "normal" president or at least introduce an air of "normalcy" into the role.
Fine perhaps as a campaign slogan, but now he's in office is it a realistic possibility?
Come to that, what the heck is "normal"? Is it even possible for the president of any country - let alone France - to be regarded as such? And is it really something to which a political leader should aspire?
Take a look at the non-exhaustive list of synonyms for "normal"; ordinary, average, typical, run-of-the-mill, middle-of-the-road, conventional, mainstream, unremarkable, unexceptional...the list goes on.
Yep, that's exactly what the French and the rest of the world needs. Blandness personified.
Of course Hollande probably means being in touch with the folk, a man of the people, uniting the French and not alienating them, behaving decently, breaking with the excesses and extravagences often associated with the office of president - in fact anything and everything his predecessor wasn't in terms of actions and comportment.
That has to be a good thing. It's honorable and admirable.
But he's the president now, and there's nothing "normal" about the office. It's one the French have traditionally regarded with a certain reverence and his role is perhaps that of a democratically-elected monarch with real political power.
He meets other world leaders, takes decisions that will effect our lives, sets the political agenda for the country,...heck he's the flippin' leader.
Sure, it was endearing to see him getting drenched in the ceremonies immediately following his investiture as he brought a certain dignity to the proceedings, and that photo' on the cover of this week's edition of Le Point raises a smile.
He's human in the way the rest of us are.
But come on François, enough already with the "normal". Stop trying to pull the proverbial wool over our eyes and assume what it is you have become - M. le Président.
François Hollande (front cover of Le Point)
François Hollande (front cover of Le Point)