President Francois Hollande has pleaded with the French people to give him more time to get the country out of its economic mess, but it mostly fell on deaf ears.
Some eight million people watched his TV appearance, but an opinion poll afterwards showed 60 percent of them were not convinced.
On the street, workers and bosses alike dismissed his government’s efforts. A young father in Montpelier said: “What struck me most is that he’s giving nothing to the workers. Indeed, it’s the opposite; my wife and I work and we have to pay for child-care, pay for a kindergarten and we pay full price when our kids eat at the school cafeteria.”
A business owner complained government policy is crushing his firm: “I wanted to see real reforms, and, most of all, lower charges. I should be able to employ two more people, the potential is there, but I’m not doing that.”
With the French economy stagnant and unemployment soaring, two thirds of those surveyed after the TV appearance felt that since being elected Hollande has been a poor president.
A middle-aged woman commenting on Hollande said: “I was expecting more conviction. Not a man who is always trying to reassure people, but a man who is able to motivate the people, who has convictions. I really think that right now people need leadership.”
Rejigged super-tax called anti-business
Business leaders also criticised plans to shift the 75 percent super-tax on those earning more than one million euros a year from individuals to companies.
Hollande had to re-draft that election pledge after it was blocked by France’s Constitutional Council.
The rehash means he can maintain an emblematic tax rate meant to symbolise making the rich help pull France out of crisis, rather than having to cap it at the 66 percent France’s top court said must be the legal maximum for individuals.
The change will reinforce a view that Hollande is anti-business, and could bring in even less for the cash-strapped government than the initial version, which would have raised some 200 million euros a year from around 1,500 French millionaires.
“I don’t understand the president’s thinking,” said Laurence Parisot, head of the Medef employers’ group. He called the rejigged super-tax a “knock to the business sector”.