Sarkozy's popularity sinks to new low
President Nicolas Sarkozy's popularity plunged in a new poll while his ruling party also suffered an election defeat which some blame on the president's private life.
PARIS, February 4, 2008 - French President Nicolas Sarkozy's popularity
plunged in a new poll released Sunday while his ruling party also suffered an
election defeat which some leaders have blamed on the president's private life.
With Sarkozy at the centre of a mew media blitz surrounding his marriage to
former supermodel Carla Bruni, an LH2 poll for Liberation newspaper said 55
percent of those surveyed had a negative opinion of Sarkozy. Just 41 percent
had a favourable view, a 13 percentage point drop from a month ago.
The poll was conducted both before and after the announcement Saturday of
the 53-year-old president's marriage to Italian Bruni after a whirlwind
Other polls in the past few weeks have showed an erosion of public support
for Sarkozy, who was elected president in May. Analysts say the public feels
Sarkozy, who was only divorced in October, spends more time worrying about his
private life than he does the concerns of the French people.
In July, Sarkozy had a 67 percent approval rating and in January it stood
at 54 percent.
Pollster Francois Miquet-Marty at LH2 said such a sudden poll slump was
rare and that "there are few examples of such massive defections," apart from
President Jacques Chirac in 1995 after a failed bid to reform pensions.
According to the pollster, 84 percent of those surveyed said they were
mainly unhappy about the economy.
Sixty-eight percent said they had no confidence in Sarkozy and the
government to improve their spending power, and 60 percent did not believe
they would improve the overall economic situation.
The second main reason for Sarkozy's plunging popularity had to do with his
personal style by "putting his private life on display", which drew a negative
reaction from 76 percent of those interviewed in the poll.
Sarkozy on Saturday married his glamourous girlfriend, which some observers
say may appease those who disapproved of his headline grabbing love life.
Sarkozy's chief of staff, Claude Gueant, said on French television Sunday
that the marriage will make their relationship "clear".
"The French will have a different view from what they've had for the past
few weeks. Things are going to become more natural, simpler," he said.
Gueant also acknowledged that the recent polls showed some loss of
confidence in the president and the government.
"The French expect a lot from their president. They have been a bit
disappointed that his private problems may have given the impression of taking
away time that should be dedicated to their concerns," he said.
As for the media spotlight on the Sarkozy-Bruni romance, Gueant said,
"There was no showcasing of his private life, there was no one directing" the
Two National Assembly by-elections were held in the Paris region on Sunday
and Sarkozy's UMP lost one of the seats to the opposition Socialists.
UMP secretary general Patrick Devedjian said the loss of the seat in
Chartres, west of Paris, was a "salutory warning" but called for greater
loyalty to the president.