Hollande approval hits new low


French president Francois Hollande's approval rating has plunged to a new low after his socialist
government unveiled a budget packed with tax hikes and unemployment surged to record levels, a poll showed today.

Confidence in Mr Hollande fell to 41 per cent from 50 per cent in September, according to the TNS Sofres poll. In June, shortly after he  was elected in May, it was as high as 55 per cent.

Prime minister Jean-Marc Ayrault's rating also took a knock, dropping to 41 per cent from 51 per cent last month.

The poll was the first since Mr Hollande's government presented a 2013 budget bill that mapped out France's biggest post-war belt-tightening effort, targeting companies and mostly wealthy households with €10 billion tax hikes for each sector.

The government says such measures are necessary if it is to meet its public deficit goal of 3 per cent of gross domestic product and to remain in favour with financial markets, which are currently lending to France at close to record low rates.

Even before the budget was unveiled, Mr Hollande's ratings had been suffering as voters began to become increasingly anxious over the worsening economic outlook and mounting unemployment.

France's €2 trillion economy has posted zero growth over the last three quarters, while joblessness claims have steadily climbed to breach the psychologically important level of 3 million people - a more than 13-year high.

The poll was conducted from September 28th to October 1st for Le Figaro Magazine and was based on interviews with 1,000 people over the age of 18.