With a week to go before the first round of France's presidential elections take place, current president Nicholas Sarkozy appears doomed to defeat.
Four polls published in less than 24 hours showed Hollande extending his lead, with the conservative incumbent's modest gains of the past month starting to evaporate ahead of a two-round contest taking place on April 22 and May 6.
A CSA poll showed Hollande winning the May 6 run-off with 57 percent of the vote. Three other polls also indicated that his chances of becoming France's first left-wing president since Francois Mitterrand were improving.
Sarkozy maintained that he had helped France weather economic crisis over the past four years far better than countries such as Greece or Spain, and he renewed warnings of market turmoil if Hollande won power.
"Mr. Hollande, by promising to raise spending without any commitment to cutbacks, is setting the stage for a confidence problem (in financial markets)," he said.
Hollande, who says he can slash the public deficit but also promote jobs and education as he hikes tax on the rich, stuck to his line in three newspaper interviews published on Friday. He said austerity would be self-defeating if not accompanied by efforts to promote economic growth in France and Europe.
"This I say clearly: financial markets will not lay down the law in France," he told the business weekly La Tribune.
This is the beginning of the socialist pushback in Europe as governments who have had to radically cut their budgets are finding people don't like their freebees taken away from them - even when the alternative is disaster. We are seeing it in Italy, Spain, in Greece, and now in France as Sarkozy's modest attempts to reform the workplace and education have been met with violent demonstrations and fierce resistance.
Obama is trying the exact same tack as Hollande, claiming we can tax the rich in order to fund massive new government spending. It's not going to work in France or America - or anywhere else. It will only speed up the process of disintegration - a fate awaiting France and their new socialist government.