France

Unemployment figures bad for Sarkozy


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Unemployment figures published yesterday will be bad news for President Nicolas Sarkozy who faces a presidential election campaign in the new year.

Unemployment in France rose by 29,000 in November to 2.84 million, the highest level since 1999. When Sarkozy came to power in 2007 he promised to lower the unemployment levels to 5%, currently they stand at 9.3% and are expected to rise above 10% next year.

Trapped in the problems of the Eurozone crisis, President Sarkozy’s government has been forced to introduce austerity measures. In the latest round of cost cutting the government announced savings of €65 billion last month, which have to be made by 2016.

Earlier this year Sarkozy’s camp had been talking up France’s Triple A (AAA) credit rating, making it clear that it was important, even sacrosanct to the wellbeing of the French economy. Now that the Triple A credit rating is under threat they have been forced to play its significance down as well as reverting to anti-UK rhetoric to try and divert attention away from the French economy.

All of this has played in to the hands of François Hollande, the Socialist Party’s (PS) presidential candidate. An Ipsos poll conducted in early December puts Hollande on 32% with Sarkozy trailing on 25.5%. Marine Le Pen of the far right Front National is on 17%. She, along with the sudden announcement earlier this month that Dominique de Villepin, a former prime minister and Sarkozy supporter, will also stand for the presidency makes the likelihood of a second round runoff in the presidential election all the more likely.

The first round of the election will take place on 22nd April with any runoff taking place on 6th May.

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