Edith Cresson hasn't had much of a honeymoon. She completes her first month as prime minister this weekend, grappling with an array of social woes and facing a no-confidence vote in Parliament.
Not even her critics hold Cresson personally responsible for the rash of domestic troubles: high unemployment, rioting by immigrant youths in low-income suburbs and strike after disruptive strike.Yet outside government ranks, hardly anyone of prominence seems eager to predict publicly that Cresson can resolve these problems.
"In truth, each day that passes since the appointment of the new premier has only reinforced ambiguity and doubt," wrote columnist Yann de l'Ecotais in L'Express, France's foremost weekly news magazine.
When President Francois Mitterrand appointed Cresson on May 15 to replace Michel Rocard, the initial public reaction was positive. It was the first time a woman had been named to the post, and polls indicated most French liked the idea.
But Cresson's first speech to Parliament, a vague outline of priorities, roused little enthusiasm even among fellow Socialists. The conservative opposition, ruled out any grace period for Cresson and plans to seek a vote of censure on Monday.
The motion appears certain to fail. But it demonstrates the opposition's eagerness to make life hard for Cresson, 57, a feisty, articulate speaker whom the press depicts as a leftist version of former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher.
Cresson comes from a well-to-do family, yet has been a devout Socialist for decades and a protege of Mitterrand's since the early '70s.
One of Cresson's problems is that politicians across the spectrum, including some Socialists, would benefit by her failure.
Her party includes powerful factions aligned to prospective presidential candidates, and they do not want Cresson to emerge as Mitterrand's natural successor when his second seven-year term ends in 1995.
In France, the premier is responsible for domestic programs but answers to the president, who oversees military and foreign policy.
Cresson knew a censure vote was inevitable because of the Socialists' tenuous position in the National Assembly.
When both these groups refused to support a major budget bill, Cresson's hand was forced. She invoked Article 49-3 of the Constitution, under which a bill can become law without a vote unless the assembly approves a motion of censure.