Surprise: France's Socialist President Not So Popular Anymore

Posted: Feb 07, 2014 11:15 AM

Who’s up for some more French socialism? Apparently not the people of France, if Francois Hollande’s approval ratings are any indication:

French President Francois Hollande's approval rating has fallen below 20 percent for the first time since being elected in 2012, a poll published Thursday revealed.

According to the poll from TNS Sofres/Sopra group/Le Figaro magazine, Hollande's rating fell three points to 19 percent, a new low in his popularity, while the proportion of French voters who said they did not trust the president increased by two points to 78 percent.

This was the first poll taken by TNS Sofres since the president's press conference on January 14, which followed in the wake of revelations he was having an affair with actress Julie Gayet.

In fact, his approval ratings are much lower than two of his predecessors’ were two years into their respective presidencies:

Hollande's approval rating compares badly to former French presidents after two years in power.

Jacques Chirac's rating in 1997 stood at 35 percent and Hollande's predecessor, Nicolas Sarkozy was at 37 percent in 2009, said TNS Sofres.

The anti-Statist in me wants to chalk these ugly numbers up to France’s growing contempt for French socialism. But the truth is slightly more complicated I’m afraid. After all, this is a guy who’s been under heavy fire lately after allegations surfaced he was cheating on his long-time girlfriend. It didn’t help, either, that when confronted by journalists about the allegations during a recent press conference, he was less-than-forthcoming. This sordid affair, then, has obviously negatively impacted his approval ratings.

His personal life aside, however, the socialist president has ineffectively pursed higher taxes on “millionaires and billionaires” since winning office in 2012; but he’s recently changed his tune. Amazingly, he called for more “tax and spending cuts” last month, according to the Wall Street Journal, in an apparent attempt to revive France’s sluggish economy and rebuild trust with French businesses. See, even President Hollande is familiar with Mrs. Thatcher’s famous aphorism. Nevertheless, his new pro-growth economic agenda is only making his base all the more angry, which is why he must be getting pretty eager to skip town.

Speaking of which, President Hollande will meet with President Obama at the White House on Monday. There will be a state dinner for him the following evening, and he’ll even get to take a ride on Air Force One.

Unfortunately for Mr. Hollande, however, his problems will almost certainly still be waiting for him when he gets back.

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