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France

Hollande to decide by year end if he will contest in 2017

media French President Francois Hollande said the labour reforms would produce results. Reuters

French President Francois Hollande said he will decide by the end of the year if he will stand for next year’s election. Expressing confidence about the labour reforms that has triggered protests all over the country, Hollande, who was questioned by three journalists and four members of the public on France 2 television channel, said he wanted to be judged on his efforts to reduce high unemployment.

“I have undertaken policies which are producing results now and which will continue to produce results,” he said.

“I ask to be judged on the issue of unemployment.”

The unemployment rate in France hovers around 10 percent.

Opinion polls on Thursday showed nearly 90 per cent of voters take a negative view of Hollande's presidency.

Hours before Hollande spoke, young protesters demonstrating against the labour law reforms clashed with riot police in Paris and several other cities.

They were the latest in a series of protests against reforms which the government argues will free up the job market and create jobs, but critics say are weighed heavily in favour of employers and will erode job security.

Hollande rejected calls for the measures to be withdrawn but conceded that “corrections” would be made to the draft law in parliament.

He claimed that there was more growth, fewer debts and fewer taxes.

“Competitivity is up. That is what I have done in the last four years and that is why I am going to pursue it to the end,” he said.

Though Hollande's popularity ratings are among the lowest ever for a post-war French leader, he insisted progress was being made.

On the international front, he said France had played an “exemplary” role in efforts to end the five-year war in Syria.

“France has supported the Syrian opposition, it has fought the Daesh (Islamic State armed group), and France wanted to intervene when chemical weapons (were being used),” Hollande said.

“France has been exemplary on Syria.”

Polls released on Thursday don’t make for a good reading for Hollande.

A BFMTV poll showed that 87 per cent of voters had an unfavourable opinion of his performance, and he did not fare much better among supporters of his own Socialist Party, with 69 per cent disapproving.

- with AFP

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