Europe

Francois Hollande: I will quit if I fail on unemployment

  • 7 November 2014
  • From the section Europe
Media captionIn an interview with TF1 Francois Hollande says he will not seek a presidential second term if he does not cut unemployment

French President Francois Hollande has said he will not seek re-election in 2017 if he fails to cut unemployment.

In a televised interview, Mr Hollande acknowledged he had made mistakes since taking office in 2012 but vowed to go "to the end" to reform the economy.

The BBC's Lucy Williamson in Paris says the interview is widely seen as an attempt by Mr Hollande to revive his flagging popularity.

Earlier on Thursday, a new poll put the president's approval rating at 12%.

Unemployment in France is currently at 11% and economic growth has all but ground to a halt.

With Mr Hollande's popularity at an all-time low, the far-right Front National led by Marine Le Pen has been making steady gains.

"I've got a thick skin. For two-and-a-half years I've been hanging on," said Mr Hollande.

"I have made mistakes. Who hasn't?"

The BBC's Lucy Williamson in Paris writes:

Bruised by personal scandal, with his popularity sunk to 12% and a rebellion growing within his party, this was a key moment for Mr Hollande to reclaim some support.

At times nervous, frequently interrupting his challengers, he fielded questions from voters about his personal life, rising unemployment and France's business environment. He had some tough debates, and announced some small initiatives to help those seeking work, but this felt more like an endurance test than a magic bullet.

The stakes, though, were high. France is beset by rising unemployment and high levels of debt, and Mr Hollande's reforms have yet to bear fruit.

"I am not deaf. I hear the anger. I see the dissatisfaction, and I have to go faster," he said.

Having been elected on a promise to boost employment, Mr Hollande admitted that jobs had not materialised and staked his political future on turning the situation around.

Voters 'unyielding'

Referring to his failed promise to "invert the trend" of unemployment, he said: "Do you think I can say to the French people, 'I didn't manage it for five years, but I promise I'll do it in the next five?' It doesn't work like that.

"If I don't manage it before the end of my term, do you think I will go before the French people in 2017? The French people would be unyielding and they would be right."

However, Mr Hollande vowed to go "to the end to reform France... to make it stronger in the two and a half years I have left".

He also promised that from next year there would be no additional tax "on anyone".

The president was questioned in the live TV programme by journalists and members of the public.

At one point a businesswoman chided him for using overly official language, telling him to "speak French".

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