Monday, April 14, 2014

IFOP: Valls More Popular than Hollande by 40 Points

The Fifth Republic has entered uncharted waters. The Prime Minister has a 58% approval rating, according to IFOP, while the President is only 18. Nothing like this has ever been observed before.

Of course, Valls has only been on the job for a week. "Give him time," say les mauvaises langues, "and he'll be down in the daisies with the president." Of course, according to the logic of the institutions, the PM is supposed to serve as a screen for the president, shielding him from the dissatisfied public. The president can always fire the PM, but not the other way around. So now what?

Well, the logic could be stood on its head. The willingness of 58% of the electorate to give Valls the benefit of the doubt--rather than say, "Groan, yet another Socialist to screw things up further"--suggests a surprising level of what I am tempted to call forgiveness. So it's possible that the dissatisfaction with two wasted years will be directed toward Hollande, while Valls, if he gets results, could be exonerated. Of course promised spending cuts are to be announced this week, and when people know whose ox will be gored, they may quickly change their minds about Valls. But the surprisingly high initial approval rating suggests that the present conjuncture might be viewed as almost the beginning of a new term, un triennat, as it were, in which Valls will have his chance to prove that the PS can indeed govern after all.