Hollande’s Popularity Rises From Record Low on Mali Battle

French President Francois Hollande’s approval rating jumped this month from a record low, improving for the first time since he took office after sending troops to Mali to battle Islamist rebels.

Support for Hollande rose 6 points from a January survey to 43 percent, according to an Ifop poll for Paris Match today.

Record-high debt, jobless claims at close to a 15-year high and efforts to cut the public deficit to 3 percent of gross domestic product this year sent Hollande’s popularity plunging in recent months.

Both the Mali deployment that started last month and Hollande’s agreement with labor unions to increase workers’ flexibility helped the Socialist president counter perceptions that he is indecisive and lacked authority.

“The French military intervention is what triggered Hollande’s rebound in French public opinion,” Ifop pollster Frederic Dabi wrote in an e-mailed analysis.

Besides foreign policy, Dabi said, “other indicators to evaluate his popularity are stable, even if positive judgment on his economic policy remains at a minority of 48 percent.”

Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault’s approval rating rose 4 percent to 45 percent, Ifop reported.

Ifop interviewed 1,026 respondents age 18 or more by telephone Jan. 31 to Feb. 1. The poll has a margin of error of 1.8 percentage points.

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