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Thursday 21 August 2014

Hollande's popularity hits record low as Carla dubs him a 'penguin'

Henry Samuel Paris

Published 19/03/2013 | 05:00

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Francois Hollande

FRANCOIS Hollande's popularity levels have reached a record low for a French head of state, 10 months into his presidency.

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Carla Bruni-Sarkozy mocked the president as a "badly brought up penguin" in one of her latest songs – and now it would seem that most of France agrees with the former first lady's opinion.

Some 67pc of people now disapprove of Mr Hollande's attempts at running the country – 10pc down from last month, according to Opinionway polling institute.

Only three in 10 French people now think he is doing a good job, down eight points, while two-thirds believe "things are not changing" for the better.

In a sign of how badly the French think Mr Hollande is faring, his ruling Socialist party was eliminated from a local by-election in Oise, near Paris, leaving candidates from the mainstream Right-wing UMP party and the far-Right National Front to fight the run-off.

"10 months after an election in a first term, this (level of unpopularity) is a record for a French president," said Bruno Jeanbar of Opinionway.

As well as angering the Right with a series of tax rises, Mr Hollande also faces growing dissatisfaction from Left-wing voters who feel his focus on debt and deficit reduction is not altogether different from the government of his predecessor, Nicolas Sarkozy.

The Right is seeking a vote of no confidence in parliament tomorrow against the government's economic and social policies.

Pledge

France's biggest union, the Communist-backed CGT, has, meanwhile, anointed a new leader, who opposes Mr Hollande's tentative stab at reforming France's sclerotic employment laws.

Unemployment in France is now at a 13-year high of 10.6pc, while Mr Hollande has conceded that he will not be able to meet a pledge to cut France's deficit to 3pc of GDP by the end of the year.

The president is banking on regaining public support via a series of meet-and-greet trips around France.

Yesterday, he sought to squeeze political capital from a huge order by the Indonesian company Lion Air for 234 European-made Airbus passenger jets.

In a lavish Elysee press conference, he said the €18.4bn deal was the biggest in the history of civil aviation and would create 5,000 jobs in France over the next decade.

He also tried to shrug off Mrs Bruni-Sarkozy's dig at him in 'Le Pingouin', a song from her new album 'Little French Songs'.

"It could have been worse. Penguins are rather nice animals," Mr Hollande said. (© Daily Telegraph, London)

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