France's Hollande hits new low in popularity poll

PARIS Sat Sep 22, 2012 6:09pm EDT

France's President Francois Hollande adjusts his glasses after a meeting at the Elysee Palace in Paris, September 20, 2012. REUTERS/Philippe Wojazer

France's President Francois Hollande adjusts his glasses after a meeting at the Elysee Palace in Paris, September 20, 2012.

Credit: Reuters/Philippe Wojazer

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PARIS (Reuters) - French President Francois Hollande's approval ratings have tumbled to their lowest level since he first took office in May, a new poll showed on Sunday, as France's grinding economic stagnation and record unemployment show little sign of easing.

According to the Ifop poll for Sunday newspaper JDD, Hollande now has a 43 percent positive rating, down from 54 percent in August - one of the sharpest drops in over a decade.

Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault also saw his own approval rating drop to 50 percent, from 57 percent, the poll said.

The poll - which showed similar trends to other surveys earlier this month - reflects French impatience with the Socialist government's perceived inability to fight the economic crisis and stop thousands of job cuts seen hitting companies like carmaker Peugeot and drugmaker Sanofi.

It is the latest sign Hollande's post-election honeymoon is ending far more quickly than that of conservative predecessor Nicolas Sarkozy, whose popularity remained above 50 percent eight months into his 2007-2012 presidency.

Addressing his falling poll ratings on Saturday, Hollande told a joint press conference with German Chancellor Angela Merkel he wanted to be judged not on polls but on results.

"I ask to be judged on results and that is something that will require time," Hollande said.

"The only result that counts is the people's vote at that time when the people are consulted."

Hollande has made reviving France's stalled economy a priority since he took office in May. He has also promised more taxes on households and businesses in 2013 in an effort to trim France's public deficit to 3 percent of GDP.

Ifop polled 1,869 people between September 13 and 21. Voters of all political stripes - save the far-right Front National - showed more dissatisfaction with Hollande than before.

(Reporting by Lionel Laurent; Editing by Catherine Bremer and Sophie Hares)

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