Grim ratings greet France's Hollande before prime-time TV grilling

Reuters News
Posted: Apr 14, 2016 4:55 AM

PARIS (Reuters) - A poll showing two thirds of left-leaning voters believe he should not seek a second term next year greeted Socialist President Francois Hollande on Thursday, as he prepared for a TV interview billed as crucial to his re-election chances.

Dogged by some of the worst popularity ratings of any French president during his term, which began in 2012, Hollande is expected to face up to three hours of prime-time questioning on everything from foreign policy to his failure to make good on a pre-election pledge to bring down high unemployment.

An Odoxa poll in Thursday's edition of daily Le Parisien found 76 percent of voters believe he should stand aside next year for a better Socialist candidate.

The poll, which tallied with one published on April 9 by Ifop, also said that some 66 percent of left-leaning supporters backed the same argument.

"In this president, the French no longer believe," said Le Parisien's front page, while the right-leaning Le Figaro headlined with "Hollande: operation survival."

Hollande was elected on a left-leaning platform but switched tack as the economy faltered to embrace more pro-business reforms. That has eroded support among traditional backers and brought unions and young people onto the streets to protest, even though the reforms have been watered down.

Adding to the perception of a wavering leader, he was pressured into dropping plans drafted after last year's Paris attack to strip people convicted of terrorism of their passports, alienating civil rights activists in his own party.

Some of the most recent polls of voting intentions have shown Hollande failing to make the second run-off round of the election, regardless of who runs against him.

(Reporting by Andrew Callus and Julie Carriat; Editing by Brian Love and John Stonestreet)