The honeymoon is over: Hollande marks 100 days
AFP · 14 Aug 2012, 10:30
Published: 14 Aug 2012 10:30 GMT+02:00
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Record unemployment and an economy headed back into recession provide a sombre backdrop to an event Hollande will mark by interrupting his summer
break to visit police officers in a village where two of their female colleagues died in a shootout in June.
The village, Pierrefeu-du-Var, is located close to the Fort de Bregançon presidential retreat where Hollande has been on holiday with his glamorous
journalist girlfriend, Valerie Trierweiller, since the beginning of August.
Political observers say the choice of location is no accident as Hollande attempts to portray himself as a president who shares voters' concerns over
insecurity and is willing to take tough measures to fight crime.
On Saturday, after attending a memorial service for the 88th French soldier to die in Afghanistan, Hollande made an unannounced detour to Grenoble to
visit victims of a recent violent hold-up, promising that the city would be added to a list of priority areas for tougher action on crime.
Polls suggest that law and order is an area where Hollande's Socialists are vulnerable to attack but it is on foreign affairs that the right-wing
opposition has focused its criticism in recent weeks.
Accusing him of standing by passively in the face of carnage in Syria, the main opposition UMP party has portrayed Hollande as a hopeless ditherer,
incapable of the kind of bold action which saw his predecessor, Nicolas Sarkozy, lead Western intervention in Libya last year.
It is a caricature that, worryingly for the Socialists, appears to be sticking and the combination with a deteriorating economic outlook has not
helped Hollande's standing with an electorate that handed him a convincing victory over Sarkozy in May.
"After 100 days, Mr Hollande has still to assert his leadership," said a headline in the influential Le Monde.
Libération, suggested that voters are sceptical about the new administration's capacity to address the myriad problems facing the country.
"The French are still struggling to understand where François Hollande and his team are really leading them," Liberation said in an editorial.
The results of an opinion poll carried out for Le Figaro newspaper at the weekend will have made grim reading for Hollande and Trierweiller as they
celebrated his 58th birthday in their Riviera retreat on Sunday.
A majority (54 percent) of the electorate declared themselves unhappy with the president's performance to date and a slightly smaller majority (51
percent) said things had changed for the worse since he took office.
Of recent French presidents, only Jacques Chirac has fared worse in the polls at such an early stage of his administration.
Paradoxically, big majorities of voters say Hollande has so far stuck to his electoral promises, most notably reinstating retirement at 60 for
long-serving workers, and certain policies such as the accelerated withdrawal of French troops from Afghanistan are very popular.
The mood among many French people seems to be one of resignation. The problems Hollande is facing, particularly on the economic front, appear simply
too big for him to do much about them.
The polls have not all been bad for Hollande. One carried out for the Journal du Dimanche last week saw him placed 15th on a list of the most popular personalities in France.
That still left him trailing the likes of former tennis star Yannick Noah and football legend Zinedine Zidane but Holland could take comfort from the
fact that he was the only politician to make the top 50.