Punished at the polls and pilloried in the press…
It has been a bruising start to the week for French President François Hollande whose Socialists have suffered major setbacks in local elections.
More than 150 towns swung to the main conservative opposition on Sunday. The far-right Front National is claiming a dozen or so, amid a record low turnout.
“Well there is a loser, which is democracy,” said Professor Dominique Moisi, senior advisor at the French Institute for International Relations.
“Nearly 40 percent of French citizens have abstained. This is the highest level in the history of the Fifth Republic for local elections.”
The Front National now believes it can win upcoming European elections – not that the party supports the EU which it believes has too much influence on economic and other policies.
Denouncing what she called “the Brussels road-map”, party leader Marine Le Pen told French media on Monday: “François Hollande doesn’t decide any more than Nicolas Sarkozy did. Brussels believes that we have to implement austerity at all costs like in Greece, Spain or Italy… and that is what François Hollande is doing right now.”
His popularity levels in the doldrums, Hollande faced ridicule earlier this year when paparazzi photographs put his private life in the spotlight.
Now a very public government reshuffle looks likely with the president set to face the French people in a televised address.