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Hollande's popularity slides as economy wanes

French President Francois Hollande’s popularity has fallen 11 per cent in one month, according to a poll published on Sunday, reflecting growing anxiety over his ability to rein in unemployment and improve the economy.

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French President François Hollande’s approval rating has slumped by one of the biggest margins in recent times, according to a poll published on Sunday, confirming voter impatience at high unemployment and the rising cost of living.

An IFOP survey for the weekly Journal du Dimanche (JDD) had the Socialist president, elected in May 2012, down 11 points in one month with an approval rating of 43%.

It is one of the worst popularity plunges for a French leader since IFOP began polling for the JDD in 1958. Hollande’s score has been beaten just twice.

In 1962 Charles de Gaulle lost 13 points in the wake of the catastrophic Algerian War, while Jacques Chirac lost 12 points in 2005 after voters dealt a mortal blow to his presidential credibility by rejecting the European Constitutional Treaty.

The IFOP poll confirmed the results of two other surveys published in the last week. Both put Hollande below the symbolic 50% approval rate.

‘I want to be judged on the results’

Hollande said on Saturday that he wanted to be judged on his achievements in the longterm, and not by “the highs and lows” of his popularity ratings.

“It is my duty to see that France is in a better state at the end of my mandate [2017] than it was at the beginning,” the French leader told reporters.

“Obviously people have much higher expectations at the very beginning, but it’s the end of the mandate that matters. I want to be judged on the results and that is going to take time.

“The only result that counts will be when voters go to the polls.”

But Sunday’s poll reveals impatience in France at high unemployment levels and the rising cost of living.

Measures, such as artificially lowering the cost of petrol for a limited amount of time, have been widely derided as window dressing that failed to tackle the root of the problem.

And in September, figures revealed that three million French people - more than 10% of the workforce – were out of work.

Right-wing voters alienated

Job creation schemes, such as plans to subsidise the salaries of young people in deprived areas, have been criticised as short-term measures that are unlikely to significantly reduce longterm unemployment.

“Even though voters know Hollande is playing the long game, they still want quick results,” IFOP polling director Frédéric Dabi told FRANCE 24.

“He has also completely alienated rightwing voters with the introduction of higher tax rates for the highest earners and plans to allow foreigners living in France to vote in local elections.”

Of those polled, 84% of Socialist Party supporters said they were satisfied with his record, as were 71% of the far-left Front de Gauche.

Only 9% of conservative UMP party voters, however, were happy with Hollande as president.

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