François Hollande after his election in May
Photo: AP / Francois Mori

Down from 55% in June and July, François Hollande’s August approval ratings stand at 44% according to IPSOS, 50% according to TNS Sofres and 49% CSA for all pollsters. The decline in results is relentless; François Hollande is experiencing a fall in popularity.

As the President expected, there has been no grace period during the first months of his term. In comparison, the popularity curve of Nicolas Sarkozy was more than 63% in 2007 before falling to less than 50% in December 2007. The last Socialist president, François Mitterrand, did not experience a similar drop until the end of 1982, one and a half years after taking office.

Hollande’s loss of popularity mainly affects voters on the left. While 85% of Socialist supporters give him their support, the Front de Gauche is at 70% and members of Europe-Ecologie-Les-Verts is only at 54%.

Miquet-François Marty, director of the Viavoice Institute, said in an interview with the newspaper Liberation, “Francois Hollande is currently experiencing a blip of opinion and it is only a matter of French impatience.” If the rise in unemployment, the uncertainties due to the financial crisis might help to provide some explanation, “power was less identifiable this summer,” says Marty. Could this be the limit of the normal presidency?

The French, accustomed to Sarkozy’s “hyperpresidency”, have difficulty perceiving the political line of an executive who takes his time and where the stakeholders are many. It is natural that there would be doubt surrounding the leadership capabilities of the new President. In addition, many remain skeptical as to the announcement of measures that seem mundane yet meet the challenges of the present time.

Hollande understood this clearly and decided to respond. The parliamentary session will open earlier than expected in early September. And this Friday, a major speech in Chalons-en-Champagne is expected before an interview on TF1 during the news on Sunday, September 9.

Asked Thursday about his declining popularity, the President acknowledged that “when growth is not brought to the table, when there are efforts that are required, when there is concern, when prices that are not brought under control, there is inevitably a doubt that takes hold in public opinion.”

“I tell the truth to the French people,” he repeated after defending himself: “There is a serious situation, perhaps even more serious than the one that had been anticipated. ‘

François Hollande reassured the French that his choices “will be done in rhythm, order and consistency.” He also justified his calendar: “I don’t have to speed up or slow down, I have to make decisions for my country.”

In a charged return in which many reforms must be accomplished, François Hollande must prove to the French that this change will happen now.