Unpopular Hollande defends record on 2nd anniversary of vote

Francois Hollande marked the second anniversary of his election on the defensive today, vowing to speed up reforms as he struggles with the worst approval ratings of any modern French leader.

AFP| Last Updated: May 06, 2014, 19:14 PM IST

Paris: Francois Hollande marked the second anniversary of his election on the defensive today, vowing to speed up reforms as he struggles with the worst approval ratings of any modern French leader.

With the latest polls showing him again hitting record lows in popularity, the embattled Socialist president took to the airwaves for an hour-long interview to champion his record.

He promised to do more to revive the French economy and fight record joblessness, even as the government pursues USD 69 billion in cuts to rein in the deficit.

"We must go even faster because this is unacceptable to the French, they want results," Hollande said during the interview and call-in show with BFMTV and RMC radio.

He vowed to "go even faster on reforms" to reduce red tape, cut labour costs and decrease taxes.

Hollande also rejected accusations that his government had suffered from amateur mistakes.

"Was it amateurism to emerge from the eurozone crisis? Amateurism when we intervened in Mali when no one else did and terrorism was winning the game Amateurism to go into the Central African Republic to prevent genocide?" Hollande said.
"All I am asking is to be judged at the end of my mandate" in 2017, he said.

The current public judgement of Hollande could hardly be worse, with 75 percent of respondents in a CSA poll this week saying they had no confidence in the president to solve the country`s problems.

In another poll by IFOP, Hollande`s approval rating fell five points in April to only 18 percent.

With the government forecasting growth of only one percent this year -- after a meagre 0.3 percent expansion last year -- Hollande is failing to convince voters he can steer the economy.

His administration has meanwhile been hit by a series of embarrassing scandals, including the resignation of the tax minister discovered to have a secret Swiss bank account and the quitting of a close presidential aide over an alleged conflict of interest and revelations of an extravagant lifestyle.