Amid increasing negativity about the government and personal economic prospects, French Euroscepticism is on the rise
Last Friday the French government was forced to defend France’s credit-worthiness after Standard and Poor’s (S&P) downgraded their credit rating for the second time in as many years. S&P blamed the rating on the inability of reforms to raise growth prospects.
However, new research conducted for YouGov’s monthly EuroTrack survey shows that economic pessimism and government disapproval were ticking up even before news arrived about the credit downgrade. The research shows that economic and political discontent have apparently even spilled over into French attitudes towards the EU, with an equal number now interested in leaving the Union as wish to stay.
The most recent survey, conducted between October 28th and November 4th, shows one-third (33%) of French people would now vote to leave the EU, virtually the same number as would like to say in (34%). This is a low-point for French sentiment about EU membership, just as sentiment in Britain reaches its most EU-friendly level since January.
The leader of French right-wing party the National Front, Marine Le Pen, took over leadership of the party from her father in 2011 and has since positioned herself as a leader of French Euroscepticism.
Support for Le Pen surged early in the 2012 presidential campaign, with some polls showing a lead over eventual winner François Hollande and incumbent Nicolas Sarkozy.
Also striking is that French people tend to expect their own financial situation to only get worse, by the widest margin since YouGov began conducting the EuroTrack survey 18 months ago.
At the same time, approval of the French government has fallen to new lows after briefly spiking when the Socialist Party candidate, Hollande, was elected President in May 2012.
Hollande’s economic and social policies – which include raising the a top-income tax rate to 75% and introducing a new 'eco-tax' on heavy goods vehicles used by farmers – have caused dramatic backlash in some parts of France. Even today, Paris Armistice Day ceremonies, led by the French president, were disrupted by protesters chanting ‘Hollande resign!’