Still Declining Approval Rating for Hollande and Ayrault

President François Hollande Photo: flickr.com/jmayrault

On October 7th, Le Metro, a popular daily newspaper, reported Francois Hollande’s public approval rating at 42% of which 49% actually claim they are displeased by the president of the French Republic. His prime minister, Marc Ayrault, even more unpopular, was given an approval rating of only 40%, and 45% are discontent with him. These numbers have been declining quickly. According to OpinionWay, in June of this year, one month after his presidential election, Hollande had an approval rating of 59%, and only 26% said they were unsatisfied.

At the same period of the presidential term, in October 2007, Nicolas Sarkozy’s approval rating was at 63% and that of his prime minister, Francois Fillon, was reported at 56%. At the end of his presidential term, in April this year, according to the barometer of the Nouvel Observateur, 40% of the population was satisfied with this president – otherwise known to be quite unpopular- and his prime minister satisfied 49% of the population. These ratings are disturbingly close to those of the new French President. Hollande has only just begun to enforce some of his reforms, trying to pull France out of this long winded financial and Euro crisis.

Hollande, the second Socialist President of the French Republic after Francois Mitterand, has even lost several left-wing supporters. According to a survey by CSA published in Les Echos last week, the president’s approval ratings for the left-wing parties have reached a record low of 76%. Amongst the Front de Gauche, the number of people supporting the French President has declined by 6 points since last month, and the support of those from the Parti Socialiste has declined by 5 points. Ever since his election, Hollande has lost 20 points regarding supporters of the Green Party.

These ratings may not come as a surprise following Hollande’s recent reforms and the record high of 9% unemployment rate, accounting for 300 million French nationals. Hollande seems to have failed in taking action where he was expected to; mass disappointment followed the redundancy plan announced in July by the automobile group “PSA” affecting 8,000 employees, as well as the shutting down of high temperature furnaces production at ArcelorMittal leading to the unemployment of 630 more workers.

Francois Hollande, however, is not the most unpopular of Presidents of the 5th Republic. His predecessors, Jacques Chirac in 2005, after the negative response to the European referendum, and Charles de Gaulle in 1962, following the war in Algeria, scored even lower popularity ratings. It seems it was only a matter of time before the population would start to doubt the Socialist President. Perhaps, Hollande’s presidential success was as much because of hope for a socialist candidate as it was a rejection of his predecessor.

With his presidential authority at stake, Francois Hollande, this week, has turned to tackling matters of internal security. On Sunday, Hollande welcomed representatives of the French Jewish community at the Elysee. They came to the President with concerns regarding “internal terrorism” referring in particular to what was believed to be an act of anti-Semitism at a Jewish deli in Sarcelles last month. Hollande is looking to regain national unity and to reestablish his presidential influence by turning to the fight against terrorism as Sarkozy did before him.

Sarkozy’s ex-spokeswoman vulgarly attacked Hollande in a press conference with Le Figaro, calling his administration “un regne d’amateur fade et triste” meaning a reign of uninteresting and pathetic amateurs. This distasteful statement is of course extremely biased. Nonetheless, it is interesting to see this Socialist President resort to the same methods that Sarkozy once did to regain popularity.

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