French President Francois Hollande waves goodbye to Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras as he leaves the Elysee palace in Paris, France, April 13, 2016. REUTERS/Philippe Wojazer(reuters_tickers)
PARIS (Reuters) - Polling institutes published some of the worst-ever ratings of a French president on Thursday as Francois Hollande prepared for a TV interview in which he aimed to reassure voters just over a year from elections.
The Socialist leader, plagued by a promise to shrink a jobless rate that has remained above 10 percent since he took office in 2012, faced a television show billed as critical for his dim prospects of re-election.
The Odoxa polling agency published a poll showing 76 percent of voters believed Hollande should stand aside next year for a better Socialist candidate.
More worryingly, the poll, which tallied with one on April 9 by Ifop, showed that this was a view shared by 66 percent of people who customarily voted for left-wingers.
"In this president, the French no longer believe," said the front page headline of Le Parisien, the newspaper for which the poll was conducted.
"Hollande: operation survival," said conservative newspaper Le Figaro ahead of the TV interview where Hollande could face more than two hours of questions about everything from the country's foreign policy to voter concerns about joblessness and labour law reforms that have triggered street protests.
The same poll, which identified unemployment as voters' main concern, showed 3 in 4 people were not even interested in what Hollande might have to say.
Another poll published on Thursday showed that a massive 87 percent of respondents were unhappy with his record after four years of a five-year term.
The only solace from the Elabe survey was that 65 percent believed his centre-right predecessor Nicolas Sarkozy would have done no better. Sarkozy is expected to run again in 2017 if he can overcome opponents in his own camp.
Sarkozy himself faced a rockbottom approval rating one year from the end of his term, albeit with a somewhat less grim 70 percent disapproval rating in an April 2011 poll by the LH2 polling group.
Other polls in recent weeks have shown that a large number of voters above all want fresh blood and are ready to vote for someone who comes from none of the established parties.
Hollande was elected in May 2012 on a left-leaning platform but switched tack as the economy faltered to embrace more pro-business reforms. That has eroded support among traditional backers and brought unions and young people onto the streets to protest, even though the reforms have been watered down.
Adding to the perception of a wavering leader, he was pressured into dropping plans drafted after last year's Paris attack to strip people convicted of terrorism of their passports.
Some recent polls have shown Hollande failing to make the second run-off round of the election, regardless of who runs against him, with some polls showing far-right leader Marine Le Pen making it to the runoff.
(Reporting by Andrew Callus and Brian Love)