Public confidence in France's Hollande slips

PARIS Thu Aug 23, 2012 3:33pm EDT

France's President Francois Hollande delivers a speech after he visited the local gendarme building in Pierrefeu-du-Var, southern France, August 14, 2012. REUTERS/Philippe Laurenson

France's President Francois Hollande delivers a speech after he visited the local gendarme building in Pierrefeu-du-Var, southern France, August 14, 2012.

Credit: Reuters/Philippe Laurenson

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PARIS (Reuters) - Confidence in French President Francois Hollande has slipped in the three months since his election, a survey showed on Friday, as the leader of the euro zone's second-largest economy faces a slew of criticism upon his return from his summer break.

Only 49 percent of respondents to a CSA-Les Echos poll said they had confidence in Hollande's leadership, a fall of 5 points from last month.

Those who said they had no confidence in the Socialist president just over 100 days into his term, made up 47 percent of those polled, with 4 percent undecided.

It was the second poll in August to reflect the uphill challenges facing Hollande in tackling domestic problems such as high unemployment and a stagnant economy, while finding ways to restore euro zone confidence by slashing 33 billion euros from next year's budget to meet crucial deficit targets.

An Ifop survey published on August 11 indicated an approval rating for Hollande of 46 percent, far below the 61 percent rating he garnered within a month of his election in May, according to Ifop.

On his first week back after a short holiday, Hollande is grappling with criticism from the opposition, as well as some on the Left, for what some say is weak handling of the economy.

Hollande, who branded himself during the campaign as "Mr. Normal," has not benefitted from the post-electoral bounce enjoyed by his predecessor Nicolas Sarkozy in 2007.

Sarkozy's approval rating climbed to 65 percent in the weeks after his May 2007 election and later began to slide, but only slumped to below 50 in early 2008.

Adding to Hollande's problems was a bout of rioting in the northern city of Amiens last week that had disturbing overtones of country-wide unrest in 2005, when marshal law was declared.

Opposition figures have also criticized the government's recent dismantling of Roma encampments, saying that Hollande is disingenuous in following the same law-and-order strategy as Sarkozy, while hiding behind a gentler facade.

(Reporting by Alexandria Sage; Editing by Jon Hemming)

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