Embattled French President François Hollande has been hit by a triple whammy of political calamities: a tell-all book by his former lover, record unpopularity of 13%, and the resignation of a newly appointed minister mired in a tax scandal.
Confidence in the socialist leader has plunged to an all-time low of 13%, according to a new poll taken even before the publication of a shocking memoir by Hollande's former partner Valérie Trierweiler in which she painted the president as cold, smug and contemptuous of the poor.
With France still reeling from the kiss-and-tell book which the press has described as a "killer blow" to his presidency, international trade minister Thomas Thévenoud was then forced to resign after just nine days in the role due to "problems with a tax declaration".
The Elysée first announced that he was stepping down for "personal reasons", before a government source told AFP that it was because he had "problems with his taxes".
The latest poll, by TNS Sofres for the popular centre-right Figaro magazine, was carried out after Prime Minister Manuel Valls reshuffled the cabinet after former economy minister Arnaud Montebourg lashed out vocally in the press at the government’s “obsession” with austerity and deficit reduction, exposing a bitter split within the party at its highest levels.
The shock reshuffle sparked by the Montebourg-led rebellion sparked headlines screaming "regime crisis" in the country’s leading newspapers.
Analysis by FRANCE 24's Florence Villeminot
The distraction of a reshuffle could not have come at a worse time, with unemployment running at above 10 percent a record high and the economy stagnating at zero growth in the first two quarters of the year.
Demonstrating the systemic nature of this Socialist government’s unpopularity, Valls who was a popular choice as prime minister when appointed just five months ago fell a dramatic 14 points in the TNS Sofres poll to an approval rating of 30%.
'Pathetic' say’s daily Le Parisien
Trierweiler's memoir, "Thank You For The Moment", also called Hollande's socialist credentials into question. Trierweiler, 49, claimed that the man who famously said he did "not like the rich" privately in fact disliked “the poor” and referred to them as "the toothless".
The phrase may yet prove to be the most politically damaging element of the affair, with the hashtag #sansdents "toothless" in French immediately shooting to the top of the trending topics on French Twitter.
Furthermore, despite general disdain in France for this type of book, it quickly shot to the top of Amazon's bestseller list in France.
The French press though largely came down on the president's side, with business daily Les Echos saying the book had "pushed the boundaries of mixing public and private life to the point of uneasiness".
The front page of the daily Le Parisien simply said "pathetic" under a picture of Hollande and Trierweiler.
The French president must be dreading the next opinion poll when Trierweiler’s book and the trade minister’s resignation are taken into account.
And that is without even considering what next political catastrophe lurks around the corner for the president who marketed himself as France’s "Mr Normal".
(FRANCE 24 with AFP)
Date created : 2014-09-05