French leaders' popularity drops

Other News Materials 3 October 2007 02:23 (UTC +04:00)

( Gulfnews ) Paris: Five months after taking power, the political honeymoon of French President Nicolas Sarkozy and Prime Minister Francois Fillon has ended, tarnished by concerns over the economy and the pace of their reforms.

An opinion poll published yesterday showed Sarkozy's popularity beneath 60 per cent and Fillon's below 50 per cent for the first time since the presidential election in May, partly reflecting sinking confidence in France's economic outlook.

"These clouds seem to indicate that the presidential charm has dimmed and that the country is awaiting a fresh presidential vision," said Stephane Rozes , the head of pollster CSA which carried out yesterday's survey for Le Parisien newspaper.

Sarkozy had a popularity rating of 55 per cent and Fillon 47 per cent. Both were down six points. Sarkozy was elected on a pledge of comprehensive reforms and says he has made a strong start implementing his manifesto, with an initial wave of tax cuts, a shake up of universities and a pledge to end pension privileges for many state sector workers.

But French voters do not perceive a boost to their purchasing power from the initial reforms. Economic data last week showing a rise in unemployment and a sharp slide in the main consumer morale indicator accentuated concerns.