Hollande Must Step Down, Majority of French People Say in Poll

A majority of French people want President Francois Hollande to step down before the end of his term, an Ifop poll for Le Figaro Magazine to be published tomorrow shows.

As many as 62 percent of the poll’s respondents want Hollande to resign and 54 percent said they want a dissolution of the National Assembly and early legislative elections.

The survey comes as the French president’s popularity rating has sunk to record lows, and after his ex-girlfriend and former First Lady Valerie Trierweiler published a scathing tell-all book that paints him as cold and heartless with not much love for the poor to justify his Socialist credentials.

For Hollande, the latest poll adds to the political and economic turmoil he’s struggling to contend with. France yesterday slashed its growth forecasts and said the budget deficit will widen for the first time in five years to 4.4 percent of gross domestic product. The government was warned by the European Commission to move quickly to put its house in order.

Hollande’s Prime Minister Manuel Valls faces a difficult confidence vote in parliament on Sept. 16 with mounting opposition from within the governing Socialist Party to his business-friendly steps.

The 60-year-old president has said a slump in opinion polls and the turmoil created by his ex-partner’s book won’t force him to step down, according to an interview published in Le Nouvel Observateur magazine yesterday.

“No poll, no political turmoil will kick me out,” Hollande said after his approval rating fell as low as 13 percent this month.

Major Strikes

Hollande said he would dissolve the National Assembly and call new elections only if the confidence vote fails or if he faces major strikes like those seen in France in 1968 and 1995.

The most unpopular French leader since the current constitution was put in place in 1958, Hollande is slated to hold a semi-annual press conference on Sept. 18.

Hollande’s woes, together with an economy that’s barely growing and joblessness at a record high and rising, have done little to dent investor enthusiasm for French bonds. The yield on the French 10-year bond is at about 1.38 percent after touching an all-time low of 1.24 percent on Aug. 28.

Ifop polled 1,002 people aged 18 and more on Sept. 8 and 9. The survey had margins of error between 2.8 percent and 3 percent.

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