Monday, 8 May 2017

François Hollande (SEI): Personality Type Analysis

François Gérard Georges Nicolas Hollande is a French civil servant, lawyer and politician who served as the President of France since elected in 2012 as the PS (Socialist Party) candidate, defeating the incumbent president, Nicolas Sarkozy (LIE), until leaving office in May 2017.

Like the majority of French presidents and prime ministers since the 1970s, Hollande is an alumnus of the ultra-elite ENA graduate school. His classmates there included Dominique de Villepin (later Jacques Chirac’s (SEE) last prime minister) and Ségolène Royal (defeated by Sarkozy in the presidential election of 2007; Hollande's Minister of Ecology), who became his domestic partner and with whom Hollande has 4 children. On the one hand Hollande’s political career has been typical of his generation in the sense that he slowly climbed up the ranks of the PS through a succession of legislative and executive elective offices, until becoming First Secretary of the Socialist Party (that is, its nominal leader) in 1997 on the recommendation of Lionel Jospin, then the PS Prime Minister. On the other hand, however, his political rise has also been unusual in the sense that his political career was based on local and regional offices, and he remains the only French president of the 5th Republic to have never been a cabinet minister. It is fair to say that when he launched his presidential bid, François Hollande was relatively unknown to the general French public: he had been the President of the Corrèze Regional Council (that is, roughly equivalent to county executive) in his Corrèze political base in the southwest of France for four years and had not occupied a truly high-profile political position at national level.

It is widely acknowledged that the relatively unknown Hollande defeated Nicolas Sarkozy in 2012 not so much because of his own merits, but rather because of the French electorate’s exhaustion and frustration with Sarkozy, who had by then been a very visible and dominating figure in French politics for about a decade. Likewise, Hollande rose to become the PS presidential candidate not so much because he had long actively pursued that position strategically (like Sarkozy had), but much more because of the successive elimination of his PS rivals, both through the political self-destruction of the heavyweights (Lionel Jospin and Dominique Strauss-Kahn) and the higher unpopularity in the PS of his later rivals (Laurent Fabius and Ségolène Royal herself). It is fair to say that Hollande’s rise to the presidency was based far more on him being the 'last survivor' after quietly standing on the sidelines, than on him being a relentless power-seeker.

The veteran journalist Franz-Olivier Giesbert, in his documentary on Hollande, observed that all of Hollande’s political rivals consistently underestimated his intellect, resilience, and political skills. Lionel Jospin made Hollande his successor as First Secretary of the PS because Jospin wanted precisely a man who would “bring calm, serenity and concord” to the PS, then torn asunder by political fights in the aftermath of François Mitterrand’s (IEI) death. That is, Jospin obviously saw Hollande as an alternative to the heavyweights fighting for prominence in the party, rather than as a faction leader himself or someone who would be resented or envied or seen as a threat. Hollande has commented to journalists that he saw his political career as a series of many events, very often unpredictable, and that his career could easily have been derailed at any point, so he just took events as they came, without worrying too much about it.

The above already makes F Ego types extremely unlikely as well as F6 types, and points to weak or at least unvalued F, that is, the Alpha or Delta quadra. Nevertheless, in separate interviews, his close collaborators have consistently said that despite his relatively harmless facade, Hollande has an inner steel that easily comes to the surface if he is pushed too hard or he sees no way to defuse the situation. That suggests a man who dislikes direct conflict rather than who lacks confidence in it, pointing probably to F in the Id, so F7 or F8.

François Hollande’s intimate relationships have followed a consistent and revealing pattern. In summary, he seems to be a sequentially monogamous man who however tends to 'blur' from one monogamous relationship to the next, with 'overlaps' in between, rather than a man who has a 'main' long-term relationship with 'flings' by the side (like Chirac or Valéry Giscard d'Estaing (LII)) or with two long-term, parallel relationships (like Mitterrand) or with clear, dramatic break-ups followed by intense new relationships (like Sarkozy). Rather, Hollande’s pattern has been of starting a new relationship without wanting to face directly the actual break-up with the still-existing one. That was the pattern of his first entering into a relationship with Valerie Trierweiler before actually leaving Ségolène Royal; and more recently, doing exactly the same with Julie Gayet and Valerie Trierweiler in turn. I argue that rather than being a 'polygamist', Hollande is someone who prefers to postpone as long as he can unpleasant confrontations, even at the cost of a period of infidelity in between. Yet, once the need for the confrontation is unavoidable, he can be quick and ruthless, even cruel, as per the accounts of those developments – he has been described as “waiting until he is against a wall before he decides to take a decision or fight”. That again points most obviously to F7 or perhaps F8, that is SEI, SLI, ESE or LSE, except that the latter two are less likely to be seen as the placid, politically passive and even 'inoffensive' figure as seen by his political patrons and rivals.

Aware that he was largely elected for 'not being Nicolas Sarkozy' rather than 'for being François Hollande', he consciously adopted a political image and style that he referred to as being again a "normal president”. That meant in essence: a more hands-off (or high-level) president who left the daily running of the country to his prime minister (unlike the notoriously hyper-active, controlling Sarkozy), and preferring a more low-profile, quiet style of moving about in the country, with trains as his preferred means of transportation. The documentary Le Pouvoir by the veteran maker of political documentaries, Patrick Rotman, who followed Hollande over several days, shows him as a man who acts as president by holding many meetings with several of his assistants in the Elysée Palace,even seemingly junior ones, with him preferring to make sure that he understands and summarises the consensus of those present rather than providing clear direction or targets. That would have been the most suitable way of acting in his former job as president of a regional council, which he seems to have found most congenial, and that probably also accounts for his success in that former role. His seeming expectation is that in a meeting others will generate ideas (rather than listen to his own ideas), in an environment seemingly 'democratic' in the sense that everyone would have a say. This is behaviour pointing to again to a valuation of I over F, with I in the Super-Id and most likely I5. Complementing that, he seems to prefer to maintain some degree of informality in such meetings, with Hollande apparently genuinely concerned with putting even his junior auxiliaries at ease and in comfort. This is consistent with S in ego, which also fits his other traits as a man who prefers calm and avoids unnecessary confrontation. Arguably that is also part of the reason why he prefers to appoint prime ministers and then let them govern more or less without his interference.

François Hollande is ideologically a man of the left, of the Socialist Party in France, in the sense that he seems to share the basic assumptions of PS voters. However, he seems to have some difficulty in arguing or exploring those assumptions in detail, and most revealingly, he seems to have a genuine difficulty with understanding where those who disagree are coming from. This was seen, for instance in his presidential debate with Sarkozy, where the latter kept coming up with pragmatic (or opportunistic) arguments based on “reality”, as in how to fight terrorism, with a seemingly puzzled (or repelled) Hollande repeating that that would be “wrong” due to clashing with some broader, generalised principles, to Sarkozy’s increased exasperation. Likewise, in a recent interview with journalists, Hollande seemed genuinely perplexed when, after he pointed out the supposed danger of the rise of the FN’s Marine Le Pen as something that should concern everyone, a journalist retorted that that rise had all taken place in the period of Hollande’s presidency (implying that he should assume at least some responsibility for that). A clearly baffled Hollande listed the events supposedly responsible (Brexit, Donald Trump (SLE), terrorism, etc.) and could not argue when the journalist replied that most of the FN voters did not have any interest in Trump. Those interchanges were revealing because they showed Hollande to not be a non-ideological opportunist able to shift gears in order to win an argument (like Chirac), or a cool analyst who deconstructs an argument and makes his own (like Giscard). Rather, Hollande has a set of clear beliefs, worldviews and conclusions that he takes for granted but is somewhat thrown off-balance when those are openly challenged, and rather than point the flaws in the other person’s argument, he seems to have difficulty accepting that they actually believe that argument. This is a trait most typical of L valuers who are however not that confident in L, and seems most like L6.

Finally, looking at R and E. As a politician, Hollande was most successful at the local and regional levels. As president he has been widely judged as a failure, by far the least popular president of the 5th Republic and the very first to not even try to be re-elected. He seems at his best when he can connect directly to the people in front of him and when addressing small-scale, concrete problems that affect people in their daily lives. As a politician on campaign, he consistently comes across as a jovial figure completely at ease and in good humour, in a way that seems completely genuine. As a speaker addressing crowds, though, he comes across as somewhat dull and boring; he is not a master of oratory able to get crowds enthusiastic. That suggests a man who is quietly confident in both R and E but not so much in stirring emotions on a grand scale. His E seems to be a more 'short-range'; one aimed at the people immediately in his presence rather than to anonymous crowds with whom he has to connect in a more abstract way, that is, E blocked with S rather than T. His extreme hesitation (until he has no choice) in breaking up close relationships also suggests a focus on R and higher than F, i.e. S1R8 and F7.

What we have is a S ego with F7, L6, and strong R8 and E2. The type that fits François Hollande best is SEI.

To learn more about SEI, click here.

If you are confused by our use of Socionics shorthand, click here.

Sources: besides his entry in the French Wikipedia and general observations, the book Un président ne devrait pas dire ça by Gérard Davet and Fabrice Lhomme; Patrick Rotman's documentary Le Pouvoir and Franz-Olivier Giesbert's documentary Que se passe-t-il dans la tête de François Hollande. The bit of the interview showing Hollande baffled at the journalists' questions can be seen here.

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