François Hollande has been officially the most unpopular French President in history for most of this year. His popularity now stands at just 15 per-cent amongst the French public and recent events show that his popularity is not going to improve anytime soon.
Earlier this week he faced a hostile reception when he visited the Tomb of Unknown Soldiers in Paris. He was greeted with boos and whistles from protesters who are angry over soaring taxes. Dozens of protestors took part in chanting ‘ Hollande out! Dictator! We don’t want your laws anymore’. With people disrupting events of remembrance to express their anger, it shows how low Hollande has fallen in recent months. This week people have been protesting in Montpellier over the government’s plans to raise their VAT rate.
Hollande was elected in May last year defeating the incumbent Nicolas Sarkozy who like Hollande was becoming very unpopular with the French people. However, to the French people who elected him, Mr Hollande controls nothing and does not wield authority of kind at home or on the world stage. Hollande has faced criticism from the media and the opposition for his consensus- style politics which has led to him being seen as indecisive. His government has been described as being in disarray with in-fighting and many U-turns on certain policies.
One of the biggest challenges Hollande now faces is the European elections in May. With a rise in support for far-right parties in Europe and in particular France, Hollande and his Socialist party will no doubt suffer heavy losses, something which I’m sure he already knows. The Front National led by Marine Le Pen is expected to receive 25 to 30 per-cent of the vote and she is very confident that they will make a significant impact by stealing many of Mr Hollande’s disillusioned voters on the Left.
It is clear that François Hollande has not been a very effective or successful president. How long could he last as President? He will probably stay until 2017. His job is as safe as the Fifth Constitution allows it to be and there are now provisions to remove a President. He could resign or call an early election, but both these seem very unlikely. Instead, Hollande will try to gain back support quickly in time for May. However, I doubt he will be successful.