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Florence School of Transnational Governance

Francois Hollande speaks about leadership in turbulent times during EUI visit

Former French President François Hollande visited the Florence STG at the European University Institute on Friday, 16 February, to discuss leadership in a fragmented world.

16 February 2024 | Event


On Friday 16 February, the EUI's Florence School of Transnational Governance welcomed former French President François Hollande at Palazzo Buontalenti for a discussion on leadership in a fragmented world. The event was introduced by EUI President Renaud Dehousse and STG Acting Director Georgios Papakonstantinou.

Drawing from his book "Bouleversements: Pour Comprendre la Nouvelle Donne Mondiale" (“Upheavals: To Understand the New Global Situation”), President Hollande offered his views on the geopolitical shifts of the past decade, particularly focusing on Russia's invasion of Ukraine and its implications for the international order.

Hollande delved into various challenges prevalent in a world grappling with crises and conflict: the looming threat of authoritarian tendencies, the significance of democratic electoral processes, the challenges of migration management, the erosion of social cohesion, and more.

Particularly noteworthy was Hollande's emphasis on the perilous potential for democratic systems to falter, paving the way for authoritarian regimes to gain ground globally.

“Democracy is threatened from the outside, by authoritarian regimes, and from the inside, as social cohesion is at risk.”

He specifically addressed the recent tragic news of the passing of Alexei Navalny, Russia's prominent opposition leader and vocal critic of President Putin. “It’s easier to win elections when you kill your opponents,” Hollande said.

Hollande pointed out Russia's tendency to chart its own course, maintaining political and economic independence and showing reluctance to seek common ground with Europe and the US, particularly on trade-related matters.

In the second part of the talk, President Hollande engaged directly with students, fellows, and researchers from the EUI community in a Q&A moderated by Professor Kalypso Nicolaidis.

Leveraging his vast political experience, including his presidency of France from 2012 to 2017, Hollande offered firsthand insights into the dynamics of political upheaval, citing examples of countries precipitated by economic struggles, social discontent, and, more recently, the rise of identity politics.

He elaborated on the current crisis facing democracies, where issues of identity often eclipse more immediate concerns such as economic challenges and climate emergencies.

Finally, Hollande praised European mobility programmes as examples of successful cultural exchange and integration within the bloc.

This event marks the continuation of a series of STG events centred on leadership and its crucial role in guiding nations through challenging periods. Be sure to keep an eye out for our forthcoming events, as we continue to explore this important theme.

Last update: 16 February 2024

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