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The next French president's tough task: fixing the economy

Francois Hollande leaves plenty of work to whoever will succeed him next spring.

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The next French president's tough task: fixing the economy

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Francois Hollande staked his presidency on a promise to revive growth and cut unemployment. Five years later, he’s become the most unpopular leader in France’s postwar history, and the first not to seek a second mandate.

He leaves plenty of work to whoever will succeed him next spring.

Hollande’s key pledge was to create jobs. When he took office in 2012, the national unemployment rate stood at 9.3 percent. Now it’s 9.7 percent.

The lack of progress has deeply frustrated – even alienated – voters.

Earlier this year, a labour reform making it easier for companies to adjust working hours and lay off staff sparked months of protests.

Ever-changing tax code, sluggish growth

Another ground for frustration is taxation.

France has the biggest tax burden in Europe, at almost 48 percent of GDP. Experts say streamlining the ever-changing tax code should now be a priority.

Hollande hiked taxes on households by more than 50 billion euros. He later rolled out 40 billion worth of tax breaks – but for businesses, angering many among the Left.

Hollande can claim some success halting the economy’s decline since the 2008 crisis. Still, it’s only forecast to grow 1.4 percent this year – far from the 2.5 percent aimed for at the start of his term.

Not impressive to most voters. Most say the economy will play a key role in the upcoming presidential election.