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French President Emmanuel Macron attends a meeting with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas (unseen) at the Elysee Palace in Paris, France, December 22, 2017. REUTERS/Francois Mori/Pool


PARIS (Reuters) - The French have become more optimistic about the future that at any time in the past eight years, a survey showed on Tuesday, belying their reputation as a nation of pessimists.

According to a Harris Interactive survey for RTL radio, 59 percent of the French were optimistic for 2018, the highest level since 2010 and 15 points higher than a trough in 2012.

Supporters of President Emmanuel Macron's party were the most optimistic, the poll showed, while those of the far-right National Front were the most pessimistic.

"There's probably a bit of a Macron effect," Harris head of political polling Jean-Daniel Levy said, pointing to renewed hope about European integration, one of Macron's policy priorities.

"There is in particular the feeling of having a presidency that holds water, with good prospects on the economic front," he told Reuters.

"It's not only the end of the Hollande years," Levy added, referring to the broad sense of malaise that marked the 2012-17 tenure of Macron's Socialist predecessor Francois Hollande. "The French hear a lot about a better outlook for growth, for jobs. There are signs that show France is less depressed."

For the first time in five years, a majority of 51 percent of the French said the past year was a positive one.

That was in contrast with the 54 percent who thought 2015 and 2016 were negative - years that were marked by deadly Islamist militant attacks. The state of emergency instituted by Hollande over those attacks was lifted by Macron in November.

(Reporting by Michel Rose; editing by Mark Heinrich)

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