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Hollande seeks revival in make or break TV speech

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Hollande seeks revival in make or break TV speech
File photo: Camus/AFP
10:14 CET+01:00
Beleaguered French President François Hollande will take to the airwaves on Thursday evening, to make a case for his presidency, as his popularity falls to record lows almost one year after his election.

The 45-minute interview to be broadcast on France 2 television has been much-anticipated in France, and is being presented as a potential watershed moment for Hollande’s drifting presidency.

“This programme is mission impossible, so he has to take risks and take control of things,” French PR guru Jacques Séguéla told TF1 on Thursday.

Leftist firebrand Jean-Luc Mélenchon told French daily Direct Matin that Hollande “must prove that he understands the anger in the country and he has to change course.”

The interview, scheduled for 8.15pm Paris time, is Hollande’s fourth major television appearance since his election in May 2012.

It comes as the Socialist president’s popularity in France continues to plummet.  A record low of 29 percent now see Hollande as a ‘competent’ president, according to a poll published by French radio RTL on Thursday.

On Tuesday, it was revealed that France’s level of unemployment had reached 3.19 million, within of whisker of breaking the previous record set in 1997.

The statistics also meant that the French economy has been steadily adding to its number of unemployed since May 2008, making February the 22nd consecutive monthly rise in the jobless total.

Earlier in March, the official INSEE statistics agency revealed that France had lost 100,000 private sector jobs in 2012 alone.

While Hollande himself downplayed the importance of Thursday evening's interview with journalist David Pujadas, evidently his camp is taking the encounter seriously.

According to French daily the Parisien, Hollande and his advisors spent most of Wednesday preparing for the appearance, and an entourage of 20 staff and counselors met at the home of Defence Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian on Wednesday evening, for some pre-interview cramming.

Earlier this month, Hollande launched a major campaign to win back the hearts and minds of disillusioned voters throughout the country, starting with a handshake tour in the eastern city of Dijon.

However, things didn't go entirely according to plan for the French president, as cameras captured footage of locals heckling him for his government's performance.

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