Negative ratings for French President François Hollande have sunk even lower with pundits saying he might not be able to salvage his bid for re-election with the publication of a book about his life in office.
Hollande’s credibility has tanked just seven months ahead of French presidential elections in which he was widely expected to seek a second term.
A day after the 672 pages were published, written up by Le Monde journalists Gérard Davet and Fabrice Lhomme, the famously unpopular Socialist president was rushing to put out fires of discontent, also in his own ranks.
Titled “Un président ne devrait pas dire ça” [A President Should Not Say That], the tome even moved the speaker of the National Assembly, Socialist lawmaker Claude Bartolone, to question the president’s ability to run for re-election. “A president should not confess so many things,” Bartolone remarked, adding the he thinks Hollande owes his supporters an explanation, so they can “see if he really wants to be a [presidential] candidate.”
Socialist Party leader Jean-Christophe Cambadelis also felt Hollande was “not making things easy for himself” in terms of re-election.
Hollande’s prime minister, Manuel Valls, tried to distance himself from Hollande and said he would be “taking stock of the consequences” after unflattering remarks Hollande made about judges were revealed. Hollande called the justice system “a cowardly institution” and accused senior judges of always “keeping their heads down”.
“All these discussions, they’re not good for politics and for democracy,” Valls said from Canada, trying to limit the toxic political fallout.
To make things worse for Hollande, a junior minister is openly suggesting that leftist former economy minister Arnaud Montebourg, who quit the government over a disagreement with the president, would beat Hollande for the Socialist presidential nomination.
Right-wing presidential candidates say the book offers more than enough proof that Hollande is unfit to govern. They ripped into the Socialist leader’s shocking remarks during a debate on prime time TV on Thursday.
And as the political storm raged, higher education minister Thierry Mandon lamented on Wednesday that “French political life is breaking up… anything is possible.”
Meanwhile National Front leader, Marine Le Pen condemned Hollande for betraying France’s diplomatic traditions by making “extremely bellicose” comments in his recent spat with Russian president Vladimir Putin.
The Kremlin leader was due to arrive in France on October 9, for a visit arranged six months ago by French Foreign Minister Jean-March Ayrault for the inauguration of a Russian Orthodox cathedral, but Hollande said he would only discuss Russian interventions in Syria’s civil war.
Le Pen said Hollande’s attitude towards Moscow represented “a total break in French diplomacy, in the role that should be France. I can clearly see a drift on François Hollande’s part toward extremely bellicose comments toward the heads of some nations… today his behaviour toward Putin.”
With high and lingering unemployment as well as a series of devastating terror attacks, French Socialists are facing some of the lowest approval ratings of a post-war government.