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Most French are 'unhappy' with Hollande

Nicola Hebden/The Local/AFP · 10 Sep 2012, 10:15

Published: 10 Sep 2012 10:15 GMT+02:00

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The poll, conducted by BVA for regional daily paper Le Parisien, revealed 59 percent of those asked were “unhappy” with the beginning of Hollande’s time in office. Before the summer, the same figure claimed they were satisfied with the new president.

Hollande’s biggest problem, according to the poll, is taking his time with the reforms promised during his campaign. Some 55 percent say he has not gone far enough, compared to 31 percent and 53 percent for Nicolas Sarkozy and Jacques Chirac respectively during the same period of their presidency.

Gael Sliman, deputy Director of BVA, said in an interview with Le Parisien: “The French are now seriously doubting [Hollande’s] capacity to get things done.

“The economic crisis is affecting them in their daily lives, and they’re expecting the new power to take the bull by the horns.

“And yet with immediate measures taken, such as the partial return of retirement at 60, the government gives the impression it’s spending its time detangling what it inherited from Sarkozy.”

But on prime time television last night, Hollande rejected criticism of dragging his feet, and pledged 30 billion euros in new taxes and savings to balance the budget and fund a turnaround in two years.

Hollande also said a 75-percent wealth tax on incomes over one million euros ($1.28 million) would not be diluted.

"The course is the recovery of France," he said Sunday in a television interview on the TF1 channel.

"I have to set the course and the rhythm" to combat "high joblessness, falling competitiveness and serious deficits," he said. "My mission is a recovery plan and the timeframe is two years."

"The government has not lost time," he added. "It has reacted swiftly."

Hollande - who has famously said he does not "like the rich" -- said 10 billion dollars would come from additional taxes on households "especially the well-heeled", 10 billion more from businesses and 10 billion from savings in government spending.

It would be the biggest hike in three decades.

"We will not spend one euro more in 2013 than what we did in 2012", he said. He also vowed to curb unemployment, currently pegged at over three million, in a year's time.

Hit by the eurozone debt crisis, France's economy just avoided entering a recession in the second quarter.

Amid a decline in his popularity, Hollande has had the onerous task of preparing a 2013 budget that must save more than 30 billion euros to meet European Union deficit reduction rules.

Accused by critics of procrastinating and not adequately spelling out how he will fund his tax-and-spend programme, Hollande said he could not perform miracles.

"I cannot do in four months what my predecessors could not do in five years or 10 years," he said, referring to his immediate hyperactive, right-wing predecessor, Nicolas Sarkozy, whose personal style and functioning were vastly different from Hollande, whose aim is to be a "normal" president.

But far-right National Front leader Marine Le Pen scoffed at the president's remarks, saying in a television interview that the "fired-up powerlessness" of Sarkozy had been replaced by the "limp powerlessness" of Hollande.

Nicola Hebden/The Local/AFP (news.france@thelocal.com)

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