Francois Hollande defends lacklustre record, promises results in year two
French President Francois Hollande on Monday defended his record in office and promised that his policies would soon produce growth and jobs, DPA reported.
"The coming year must be that of results," Hollande said on the first anniversary of his election, which has been overshadowed by spiralling unemployment, stagnant growth and plummeting approval ratings.
The Socialist leader has sunk to record lows in opinion polls, which show only around 25 per cent of the electorate supporting him.
"I understand the scepticism of the French," Hollande said, lamenting "so many sacrifices" asked "by so many governments, without results."
The reforms introduced by his government were already bearing fruit, he defended, pointing to modest progress in stabilizing the country's finances, boosting competitiveness and helping stabilize the euro.
The next 12 months would produce results in other areas, such as economic growth, jobs, housing and schooling, he said.
He reiterated his objective of stopping the rise of unemployment by the end of 2013.
"It's within reach," he said, despite the European Commission saying last week it expected the jobless rate, which currently stands at 10.6 per cent, to continue climbing into 2014.
On growth too, Paris and Brussels diverge. The government has forecast a 0.1-per-cent expansion in gross domestic product this year while the EU has predicted a 0.1-per-cent contraction.
Hollande said the battle for jobs required "creating the best environment for companies" while growth would be boosted by a 10-year programme of investment in new technology, renewable energy and infrastructure to be unveiled in the coming weeks.
His remarks follow a plethora of anti-government demonstrations in recent days, staged by groups ranging from the radical left to the far-right.
"The 'normal president' has not been able so far to win the trust of his compatriots," the leftist Liberation daily wrote Monday, calling Hollande a "man alone."