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Hollande most unpopular French president on record - poll

PARIS (Reuters) - Francois Hollande has become the most unpopular French president on record, an opinion poll showed on Monday, with the Socialist leader hit by anger over tax hikes, unemployment and rows over the government’s immigration policy.

France's President Francois Hollande addresses a news conference at an European Union leaders summit in Brussels October 25, 2013. REUTERS/Laurent Dubrule

Hollande’s popularity has sunk to 26 percent of those surveyed, the first time the BVA poll has seen a French president’s approval ratings fall below 30 percent.

Hollande’s approval rating had started sinking quite soon after he was elected in May 2012 but this survey shows his popularity lower than that of any other president at any time in their term in the 32 years the BVA survey has been carried out.

This underlines the task facing Hollande and his government in reviving their popularity at a time when record high jobless numbers and wrangling over tax levels have clouded efforts to revitalise a sluggish economy.

The poll shows a near-unanimous unpopularity among right-wing voters: 97 percent have a bad opinion of Hollande, a level never reached by any president among supporters of other parties, even former conservative president Nicolas Sarkozy, although he deeply antagonised many left-wing voters.

While Hollande is dragging his Socialist party’s approval ratings down, the far-right National Front keeps progressing, with the two parties now with the same approval ratings.

Some 84 percent of those surveyed on October 24-25 believed government policy was not efficient and 74 percent said it was not fair.

Hollande has seen his popularity sink further after he was widely criticised for offering to allow a deported immigrant teenager to return to France but without her family.

In a Harris Interactive poll on Thursday, four fifths of French voters said they believed Hollande would not win the next presidential election in 2017.

The outgoing president traditionally represents his party in the next election and in past decades most, with the exception of Sarkozy, won a second mandate.

Reporting by Ingrid Melander; Editing by Alison Williams