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French trust in Hollande grows after Paris attacks

AFP archive | French President François Hollande addresses the nation the day after the November 13 Paris attacks

French President Francois Hollande's popularity has risen to its highest level in three years with voters backing his robust handling of the November 13 militant attacks that killed 130 people in Paris, two polls showed on Tuesday.

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Trust in Hollande jumped from 15 percent in November to 35 percent in December, back to a level last seen in December 2012, the TNS-Sofres One Point poll for French newspaper Le Figaro showed.

Approval of Hollande's action as president soared from 28 percent in November to 50 percent in December, an IFOP-Fiducial poll for Paris Match showed.

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.

It remains 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 usually low-key election for regional administrations is this time a key test for France's main parties as they gear up for the 2017 presidential vote.

Temporary spike?

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.

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.

Furthermore, France’s unemployment rate is now above the eurozone average for the first time since 2007, according to Eurostat data, a figure likely to hurt Hollande.

(FRANCE 24 with REUTERS)

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