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Economic strains put Hollande on back foot

(Xinhua)

09:25, October 24, 2012

PARIS, Oct. 23 (Xinhua) -- After the initial euphoria based on promises of more growth, more jobs and more wealth, the clock is ticking on French President Francois Hollande's recovery plans as the economy sputters along with an ever increasing jobless rate.

Five months into office, Hollande has sought to introduce more taxes on the rich to help restore the country's finances.

However, his plan for more social welfare without growth-sapping austerity measures suffered a setback as series of polls showed the Socialist's approval ratings tumbling after a promising start that was short-lived.

A recent survey by OpinionWay showed Hollande had a 42-percent positive rating, down 4 points in October from a month earlier. Former conservative president Nicolas Sarkozy enjoyed a 63-percent approval rating during the same period in 2007, the poll added.

"Hollande is facing serious problems. What's hard for him is to show that his efforts bore fruits," said Emanuelle Gault, head of strategic opinion at TNS-Sofres.

"Unfortunately, we don't see how the president will face the challenge of confidence and how he would overturn negative and structural indicators rapidly," Gault added.

In the May elections, observers say Hollande won over his opponent more because people had enough of Sarkozy and because the Socialist offered desperate voters a promising outlook amid continuing economic gloom.

In the latest sign of the Hollande's sliding popularity, an Ifop survey found that Sarkozy would beat the incumbent by 1.5 points in the first round if a presidential election were to held today. It then predicted the two would be tied at 50 percent each in a hypothetical runoff.

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