French President Hollande even more unpopular than Obama

With his approval sinking to 12%, 10% unemployment, anemic economic growth, and successful people fleeing France to avoid paying confiscatory taxes, French President François Hollande is in a huge mess largely of his own making.

Yesterday, in a live TV interview, he said he wouldn't raise anyone's taxes next year and that if unemployment didn't come down by the end of his term in 2017, he wouldn't run for re-election.


"If I don't succeed (in bringing down unemployment) by the end of my term, do you think I will present myself to the French in 2017?" Hollande said. "The French would be unforgiving and they would be right."

Hollande admitted to having misread the dire state of the economy when he came to power in 2012, notably by assuming growth would return and unemployment would start to come down by end-2013. Instead, joblessness has continued to rise and growth has been anemic.

Yet he stuck by his program of reforms focused on improving corporate margins, even when challenged by a 46-year-old female chief executive who said she would save 3 million euros ($3.71 million) per year by moving her 300 employees to Britain or Germany.

On the same day, Hollande received a 12 percent approval rating in the monthly survey by pollster YouGov, down 15 percentage points from the prior month, the worst score for a French president in modern-day polling.


Hollande's popularity has slumped as his government, facing chronic unemployment, has tried to reform the economy while seeking to rein in a budget deficit through a combination of tax rises and curbs on public spending.

The approach has yet to yield clear results as unemployment remains above 10 percent, the economy is barely growing and frustration is widespread over high taxes and reforms seen as more favorable to employers than consumers.

In addition to his tax pledge, Hollande announced the creation of 15,000 subsidized jobs for youths and increased aid for unemployed people over 50.

"Starting next year, there will be no additional taxes on anybody whatsoever (in 2015)," Hollande said, using a formula that recalled former U.S. President George Bush's appeal while running for office in 1988, "Read my lips: no new taxes."

Yeah – and we know how well that worked out for Bush #41, don't we?

The French Central Bank foresees growth in the 4th quarter at 0.1%.  That's bad even for a socialist.  But it's pretty clear that Hollande doesn't get it.  You raise taxes on the most productive people to unbearable levels, and they either leave or refuse to hire on new employees.  Youth unemployment in the entire eurozone is at painfully high levels because it costs so much in taxes and regulations to hire someone.  France is one of the worst countries to do business in, and people and companies are voting with their feet and leaving in droves.

Does Hollande really think that not raising taxes next year will elicit a sigh of relief from the business community?  Perhaps repealing some of the taxes he's piled on over the last three years would be more to the point.



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