Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Hollande's Unpopularity

It's been quite a dramatic fall, and there's no sign that it's stopping. Hollande's presidency is now disapproved by 73% of voters. 94% of UMP voters disapprove, perhaps not surprising, but so do 80% of "workers" and 70% of Greens.

The odd thing is that this massive disapproval does not seem to be associated with the kind of widespread fulmination, loathing, and mockery that accompanied Sarkozy's fall from grace. The French don't hate Hollande; they just don't think he's up to the job. This judgment is no doubt unfair. The job that citizens want the president to accomplish is clearly impossible. But one can imagine another president doing a better job of explaining things, clarifying his choices, mapping out future directions, accounting for past misperceptions and failures. Something isn't clicking between Hollande and his public. The rise of the Front National, apparently confirmed by the voting in Villeneuve-sur-Lot, is just one symptom of a wider malaise.

The danger is that Hollande now has no cushion. If he does finally act forcefully, as he has threatened to do in regard to pension reform, he will provoke opposition. His prime minister is such a pallid figure that he provides no protection for the president. All anger will be directed at him, and he has no way to deflect it.

5 comments:

Passerby said...

"The odd thing is that this massive disapproval does not seem to be associated with the kind of widespread fulmination, loathing, and mockery that accompanied Sarkozy's fall from grace. The French don't hate Hollande; they just don't think he's up to the job."


Art,

Point taken that citizens do not generally "hate" Hollande. Sarkozy was a much more polarizing figure.

However I beg to differ on the "mockery" part. Hollande is the target of an incredible number of derisive nicknames. On top of my head can easily list about a dozen:
Moulande, Flanby, Pépère, Babar, Hollandouille, Le pingouin (whether Carla meant it or not, the epithet stuck), Fraise des bois, Culbuto, Porcinet, Capitaine de pédalo, Guimauve (le conquérant), Mimolette, Monsieur Bricolage (reference to his recent "boîte à outils" comment).


I don't recall any president accumulating that many epithets...

The World Around Me said...

It is so strange that in supposed democracies, the heads of state have such a low consensus.

Durando said...

Surprising how disappointing Ayrault has turned out to be. For as much time as he has spent in Paris he is still not up to national politics.

FrédéricLN said...

The party that holds all commands has simultaneously a very high degree of conservatism (in the meaning of: keeping untouched all advantages and ways of doing of the public service systems — as it's the electoral basis of PS), and a very low capacity to raise interest in the public, out of this electoral basis.

In Northern American words: the PS doesn't show, since the early 90's, any ability to build coalitions.

The PS could nevertheless, for the sake of survival, stick to a distinct political line that some of its leaders would push. I'm not that surprised that Hollande has none. I supposed Ayrault would have one. As a matter of fact, some of their speeches let us think they know where their Administration should go. But this willingness (if exists) has no visible effects at all. I think public derision towards these leaders comes from that ineffectiveness.

At least they could (pour le meilleur ou pour le pire) raise taxes; but the even taxes don't come in as expected.

At least they could push some "moralization" or "transparency" initiatives: but the Assemblée Nationale achieved the transformation of the initiative into joke.

Actually, the French humor regarding our Administration can be understood as a kind of optimism-after-all, it sounds like Zinoviev's "L'avenir radieux".

I can't understand that otherwise than so: our leaders have abandoned most of their hopes of change, finding that the opponents were too strong and the chances of success too low. But they would hope the citizens to thank them for having dreamt of being able of doing something. That's unlikely.

Yes, the oppositions are strong. I think only mad men, in the 1944-45 or 1958 style, could really try and change things nowadays.

There are some, such as Michèle Rivasi, just today.

TexExile said...

"The French don't hate Hollande; they just don't think he's up to the job. This judgment is no doubt unfair. The job that citizens want the president to accomplish is clearly impossible."

The first and third sentence strike me as both obviously true, but I struggle to see them as offering support for the second. As you go on to point out, there are plenty of reasons for thinking that he is not up to the job even on a much more modest assessment of what any president might achieve in current circs.