Jan 14 - French President Francois Hollande sets out his plans to revive the weak French economy as the media furore over his alleged a secret love affair with an actress continues. David Pollard asks how investors view the crisis and looks at the impact of Hollande's accident-prone government.
The newspapers had already set the stage ahead of the French president's media encounter. Some saying they're lying in wait for Francois Hollande - others talking of the disgrace of recent events. Most harking back to 1983, when his Socialist predecessor Francois Mitterand famously did an about turn from nationalisation to market policies in a bid to spur growth. Hopes of similar from Hollande have been high since he promised a ''responsibility pact'' - where companies' labour costs would be cut in exchange for hiring more workers. At the conference, Hollande said France must produce ''more and better'' - he pledged fewer taxes on business - and that business would no longer pay family welfare payments from 2017. SOUNDBITE (French) FRENCH PRESIDENT, FRANCOIS HOLLANDE, SAYING: ''It's not question of changing course. It's a question of going faster, going further, of speeding up, going deeper. The challenge isn't simply for France to regain growth - which is visible - but that growth should be as vigorous as possible.'' Hollande's appearance has been overshadowed by his alleged affair with actress, Julie Gayet. Followed by news that his partner, Valerie Trierweiler, had been hospitalised. SOUNDBITE (French) FRENCH PRESIDENT, FRANCOIS HOLLANDE, SAYING: ''Everyone can go through trials in their private life. That's our case. These are painful times. But I have one principle: that one's private life should be dealt with in private.'' The damage it's doing to the presidency is prompting some French to break with their traditional reserve over their leaders' private lives. And investors to demand a dramatic flourish from Hollande - before it's too late. Jane Foley of Rabobank. SOUNDBITE (English) SENIOR FX STRATEGIST, RABOBANK, JANE FOLEY, SAYING: ''It's going to be quite an interesting few months, I think, for Hollande and I think the next elections also will be extremely interesting in France to see which direction France does go.'' NAB's Nick Parsons says despite his policy rhetoric, changes could come elsewhere. SOUNDBITE (English) NICK PARSONS, HEAD OF MARKETS STRATEGY, NAB CAPITAL, SAYING: ''A change in the make-up of government has been a feature of the Fifth Republic. I think that's something we can probably expect. As for changes in policies, it doesn't really seem to be in Mr Hollande's nature to have significant changes in policies.'' France is coming up for municipal elections in March, and European elections two months after that - Hollande's Socialist Party tipped to take some damaging losses in both sets of polls.