The Cable

Mon Dieu, François Hollande’s Approval Rating Is at 4 Percent

Ç’est mal. The French people are very displeased with their president.


French President François Hollande’s approval rating is currently at 4 percent. Not 40. Not 14. No — four.

Here are some things that are currently more popular in France than François Hollande: Hillary Clinton; the opportunity to take a long, hard look at the direction of the European Union; and, according to this Sputnik article, Vladimir Putin.

Why? Well, according to the Economist, the new numbers came out after the publication of a book in which Hollande is quoted as insulting the judiciary, the poor, the national soccer team, and his own ministers. The book is called A President Shouldn’t Say That. Because clearly a president should not say any of those things.

The authors did not come across these remarks in the wild; Monsieur Hollande made them directly to the writers, with whom he met on 61 separate occasions over four years.

Imagine making a self-destructive mistake. Now imagine making that same mistake 60 more times. Very good. You have just imagined yourself as François Hollande. (Now scrounge up $11,000 for a haircut.)

At least Hollande timed this popularity plunge well. Yes, he’s being insulted by rival Nicolas Sarkozy. But can you imagine how unfortunate this would be if Hollande were about to face a presidential election that he cannot possibly win and in which the stakes are incredibly high, given terrorism and Islamophobia and the rise and reach of far-right candidate Marine Le Pen?

No need to imagine. He is about to do just that: His party’s primary is in January. Though opponents cannot announce their candidacy until December, there will likely be quite a few challengers. The primary — the first a sitting French president has had to face in 50 years — was announced in June because Hollande was so unpopular. And back then he had a plum 11 percent approval rating.

Photo credit: Jack Taylor/Getty Images

Emily Tamkin is the U.S. editor of the New Statesman and the author of The Influence of Soros, published July 2020. Twitter: @emilyctamkin

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