By Henry Samuel, Paris
3:45PM BST 01 May 2013
Just three days ahead of his first anniversary after taking office (May 6), the French president is mired in the lowest approval ratings for any French head of state and a damaging spat between his Socialist Party and Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany
Compounding his woes, a poll a poll by CSA for BFMTV released this week suggests he would be knocked out of the first round of presidential elections by Miss Le Pen, with just 19 per cent of French prepared to vote for Mr Hollande compared to 23 per cent for Miss Le Pen. The poll put ex-conservative President Nicolas Sarkozy in poll position on 34 per cent assuming he ran again.
Another poll published a week ago put Mr Hollande and Miss Le Pen on level pegging on 22 per cent.
Either way, the score is considerably higher than the 17.9 per cent of the vote the FN leader won in last year’s presidential first round, where she came third, with Mr Hollande on 28.6 per cent and Mr Sarkozy on 27.2 per cent.
Miss Le Pen has been a prime beneficiary of growing French rejection of its political class against a backdrop of corruption scandals, economic gloom and record unemployment levels.
Her party is training up new recruits in the hope of making significant gains in municipal and European elections next year.
Speaking at a rally in Paris on Wednesday she said her party was a “light of hope” in “dark times” at a May Day rally at the place de Opera, central Paris, claiming: “We have already won the battle of ideas.”
The anti-immigration leader who wants “national priority” for French in jobs and housing, launched a scathing attack on what she called the “absurd politics of austerity without end”, which she squarely blamed on “Brussels and Berlin”.
In that sense, her message was not far removed from the tone of a draft Socialist Party document that sparked scandal last week by accusing Mrs Merkel of “egotistical intransigence” and called for “democratic confrontation” with Berlin. The final version has removed any mention of the Chancellor or David Cameron – also singled out.
Battling austerity was also the main message from France’s top unions at their May Day rallies yesterday, with CGT leader Thierry Lepaon warning their inability to join forces was in part responsible for the “rise in the ideas of the far-Right”.
David Assouline, a Socialist party spokesman, warned voters not to be “fooled” by Miss Le Pen’s apparently less provocative tone, warning she was a “poison for the republic and democracy” and that she wished to reconnect with “the pre-war far-Right tradition of National Socialism”.