Can't find what you're looking for? Try Google Search.

Sarkozy popularity below 50 pct - poll

PARIS - French President Nicolas Sarkozy's popularity fell sharply in the past month, especially among core conservative voters, following criticism of his economic record and private life, a poll released on Saturday showed.

The IFOP poll for weekly Journal du Dimanche said 47 percent of people had a positive opinion of Sarkozy, compared with 52 percent in December, leaving him less popular than his Prime Minister for the first time since his election last May.

Prime Minister Francois Fillon edged up to 50 percent from 49 percent in the previous monthly survey.

France's President Nicolas Sarkozy waves at France's communist CGT union leader Bernard Thibault (not pictured) in the courtyard of the Elysee Palace after a New Year greetings ceremony in Paris January 17, 2008. (REUTERS/Charles Platiau)

Coming two months before local elections, it was the first time Sarkozy had fallen below 50 percent in the monthly IFOP poll, confirming the results of another survey last week.

Political analysts say Sarkozy's popularity has stumbled since he cast doubt on one key campaign pledge -- boosting the spending power of ordinary individuals -- at a New Year's news conference, saying state coffers were empty.

The head of BVA pollsters, Jerome Sainte-Marie, said last week voters were especially concerned about their purchasing power and did not believe Sarkozy had lived up to his pre-election promise to be "the president of purchasing power".

Sarkozy has also raised eyebrows among older voters in mainly Catholic France with his whirlwind and very public romance with supermodel-turned-singer Carla Bruni.


The biggest drop in popularity since December was among people aged between 50 and 64, down 8 percentage points to 43 percent, according to the IFOP poll.

His support fell 10 percentage points to 59 percent among shopkeepers, self-employed people and business heads -- the bedrock of support for Sarkozy's ruling UMP conservative party.

Support among UMP sympathisers fell 5 points to 88 percent and among centrist voters it fell 10 points to 34 percent.

The leader of the UMP party, Patrick Devedjian, said Sarkozy was paying the price for being more transparent than his predecessors about his private life.

"He's the one who put his weeekends on public display. People only remember images of luxury," Devedjian, a long-time Sarkozy ally, told the Journal du Dimanche.

"It's easier and more amusing to look at photos of a happy couple than austere legal arguments for reforming labour contracts. That little revolution is a bit less noticeable than glossy images. Transparency can have perverse effects."

No comments: