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President Hollande’s popularity surges in wake of Paris attacks

Lionel Bonaventure, AFP | French President François Hollande at the Elysée presidential palace in Paris on November 20, 2015

French President François Hollande’s approval ratings have jumped in the wake of the November 13 attacks in Paris, according to two new polls published over the weekend.

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Since his election in 2012, Hollande’s approval ratings have been consistently low, making him one of the most unpopular presidents in recent French history.

But according to two new polls published over the weekend, Hollande’s ratings have surged over his handling of the November 13 attacks in Paris, which claimed the lives of 130 people.

One survey by market and opinion researcher BVA published on Saturday found that 33 percent of French people have a “good opinion” of Hollande – up from 25 percent in October – while his disapproval rating fell 10 points to 65 percent.

Another poll by Ifop for the weekly newspaper Journal du Dimanche published on Sunday also marked a significant jump in Hollande’s popularity, with 27 percent “very or somewhat satisfied” with his performance, up from 20 percent the month before.

It is unclear, however, whether Hollande’s improved ratings will have an impact on his Socialist Party’s chances in the country’s upcoming regional elections on December 6 and December 13.

The president saw a similar spike in popularity after January’s deadly attacks on French satirical weekly Charlie Hebdo and a kosher grocery store in Paris. But his polling slipped in the months that followed as the public’s attention shifted to other issues, reaching a 2015-low in October.

“The much harder question to answer is whether this will translate into popularity at the ballot box...The deep springs of social and economic discontent are still there, this hasn’t erased them,” political scientist Pascal Perrineau told Reuters.

Gael Slimane of the Odoxa polling institute echoed Perrineau’s comments, saying that once worry over the attacks subsides, “economic concerns will come back to the fore”.

There is also speculation that the attacks in Paris could play slighty in the favour of the conservative party Les Républicains (formerly the UMP), which is tipped to win several regions, as well the far-right National Front (FN), also expected to make some gains in the elections.

This is because even though Hollande is seen to have handled the crisis well, Les Républicains and the FN have traditionally taken a tougher stance on security issues.

A poll after the Paris attacks showed that while 87 percent trusted the police and security forces to stand up effectively to terrorism, only 50 percent thought the same of Hollande and his government.

(FRANCE 24 with REUTERS)

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