Hollande approval rate doubles in wake of Paris terror attacks

Philippe Wojazer, AFP l Hollande embraces Charlie Hebdo survivor Patrick Pelloux during the January 11 mass rally in Paris
Philippe Wojazer, AFP l Hollande embraces Charlie Hebdo survivor Patrick Pelloux during the January 11 mass rally in Paris Philippe Desmazes, AFP | French police

French voters’ approval of their president has jumped by a staggering 21%, according to a survey published on Monday, in the highest leap in polling history.


Ifop polling institute said President François Hollande’s approval rate had more than doubled, from 19% to 40%, in the wake of the deadly terrorist attacks against satirical weekly Charlie Hebdo and a kosher supermarket in Paris.

Hollande has been unusually prominent since the January 7 assault on Charlie Hebdo, personally directing the response to France’s deadliest attacks in half a century.

The three-day terror spree, in which 17 people were killed, prompted a rare display of national unity, with politicians of all stripes closing ranks in defiance of the terrorist threat.

It also triggered an outpouring of international support, which culminated in a mass rally in Paris attended by close to two million people, including the leaders of more than 40 countries.

Ifop’s Frédéric Dabi said the leap was unprecedented in French polling history. "The only similar case was when (then president) François Mitterrand’s rating jumped 19% during the 1991 Gulf War”, he said.

Hollande’s prime minister, Manuel Valls, also saw his ratings jump 17 percentage points to 61% -- higher than when he took office in March 2014.

Just over one thousand people aged 18 and over were surveyed over two days, between January 16 and 17. They were asked whether they “approve or disapprove of François Hollande’s actions as president of the Republic”.

Prior to the terrorist attacks, the same question had resulted in a steady decline in Hollande’s ratings. Just weeks ago, the embattled president was scraping historic lows, reaching a dismal 12% in November, amid record levels of unemployment.

Mathieu Doiret of Ipsos, another polling institute, attributed the surge in the president’s ratings to the “exceptional circumstances”, the fact that “Hollande was starting from a very low point”, and the newly found “leadership qualities” he displayed during the crisis.

“French people discovered a very different Hollande in the days that followed the attacks,” Doiret told FRANCE 24, though cautioning that the French president would have to find some degree of success on the economic front to consolidate the recovery.

Hollande has said he will not seek re-election in 2017 if France's jobless numbers continue to rise.

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