French trust in Hollande grows after Paris attacks

PARIS: French President Francois Hollande's popularity has risen to its highest level in three years with voters backing his robust handling of the Nov. 13 militant attacks that killed 130 people in Paris, two polls showed on Tuesday.

Trust in Hollande jumped from 15 percent in November to 35 percent in December, back to a level last seen in December 2012, the TNS-Sofres One Point poll for Le Figaro daily showed.

Approval of Hollande's action as president soared from 28 percent in November to 50 percent in December, an IFOP-Fiducial poll for Paris Match showed.

Hollande, a Socialist elected in May 2012, has for most of his mandate drawn the lowest ratings ever for a French president. Now he is now doing better than conservative predecessor Nicolas Sarkozy did at the same stage of his tenure.

However, a smaller jump in his approval ratings after militant attacks in January was short-lived, suggesting support could fade again in the longer run towards his expected re-election bid in 2017.

France's unemployment rate is now above the euro zone average for the first time since 2007, according to Eurostat data, a figure likely to hurt Hollande's ratings.

Sixty-three percent of those surveyed for the December poll still said they did not trust him.

Hollande's Socialist Party, which now rules most regional jurisdictions as well as the country as a whole, is seen suffering huge losses in regional elections on Dec. 6 and 13, even if the defeat could be somewhat smaller than it may have feared a few weeks ago.

The TNS Sofres survey was based on the views of 1,000 people polled at home between Nov. 26 and Nov. 28.

The IFOP-Fiducial survey was based on the views of 983 people polled by phone on Nov. 27-28.