Hollande Popularity Gains After Mali Intervention, Poll Shows

President Francois Hollande’s popularity improved for the first time since he took office after he sent French troops to Mali to battle Islamist rebels.

Hollande’s approval rating gained 4 points to 44 percent, a BVA poll for L’Express magazine and France Inter radio showed.

Plagued by rising joblessness and a stalled economy, Hollande’s popularity has plummeted since he took office last May, reaching a low of 40 percent in December, according to the BVA series. The Mali deployment, which came the same week that Hollande won an agreement with unions to increase worker flexibility, has helped the Socialist president counter perceptions that he is indecisive and lacked authority.

This foreign-policy move “has helped Hollande address his personality weaknesses, his decisiveness and his authority,” Celine Bracq, a BVA pollster, said in a webcast on BVA’s website. “The intervention in Mali is strongly supported by a majority of French. That’s broadening his basis of support.”

Even so, within his own Socialist base, Hollande’s actions have come under fire, Bracq said. Fifty-seven percent of those surveyed said the president’s policies are unjust and 72 percent said they are ineffective.

“He needs to strengthen himself with the left, where he’s increasingly fragile,” Bracq said. His own supporters “consider him not sufficiently socialist.”

BVA interviewed 1,136 voters by Internet on Jan. 24 and Jan. 25. The poll has a margin of error of 2.5 percentage points.