Nicolas Sarkozy sees popularity rise in June – poll


A third opinion poll in two weeks showed a rise in French President Nicolas Sarkozy’s tepid popularity ratings, with his score up two points at the start of June to 34 percent in an Ifop survey published.

It was the third survey to show a boost to Sarkozy since his strongest rival for the April 2012 presidential election, former IMF chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn, was arrested in New York on May 14 on attempted rape charges.

Ifop’s last poll, published on May 10, gave the centre-right president a 32 percent approval rating.

The Ifop poll suggested Sarkozy’s assertive foreign policy of recent weeks may have won him some points, with 69 percent of respondents saying he defended France’s interests abroad “well,” a rise from 64 percent in May, Reuters reports.

Sarkozy spearheaded the NATO-led campaign in Libya to halt attacks on rebels by Muammar Gaddafi’s army, and he also sent French forces in to help Ivory Coast President Alassane Ouattara’s troops end a violent impasse over his election win.

Sarkozy remains one of the least popular French presidents in recent history, however, and he faces an uphill battle to win back former supporters defecting to the left and far right.

Some 66 percent of those polled by Ifop said they disapproved of Sarkozy’s actions as president.

Despite his high profile abroad, only 46 percent of respondents said Sarkozy was capable of reforming France, where tensions over immigration, unemployment and inflation are boosting support for the far-right National Front.

A BVA survey last week also showed a two-point rise in Sarkozy’s popularity following the arrest of Strauss-Kahn, who had been seen as the strongest election candidate for the opposition Socialist Party.

A Harris Interactive poll Monday found 22 percent of respondents were confident in Sarkozy, up from 21 percent.

Ifop polled 1,005 people on June 1 and June 3.