A War To Reverse The French Government’s Descent Into Unpopularity Hell

Wolf Richter's picture

Wolf Richter   www.testosteronepit.com   www.amazon.com/author/wolfrichter

Normally, the media would have given it priority: French President François Hollande and Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault have become more unpopular than ever before. But the poll was shoved into the background by France’s bombing campaign in Mali—which released an avalanche of positive comments and support from all sides, at least in France. With impeccable timing.

In a poll conducted on Friday and Saturday just before the Mali intervention, only 39% of the respondents had a positive opinion of Hollande, a new low, a plunge of 19 percentage points in seven months. A brief uptick in November had been a mirage. By contrast, Nicolas Sarkozy, during the same period in his term (January 2008), was still riding high with an approval rating of 54%.

And poor Ayrault. He never even had an uptick. His ratings have gone straight to hell. Only the speed has varied from poll to poll. After seven months of watching his handiwork, only 35% of the French still have a positive opinion of him—down 21 percentage points since he took office. His predecessor, François Fillon, had never sunk this low.

“This raises the question of Jean-Marc Ayrault’s legitimacy,” explained the Institute LH2, which had conducted the poll. Even on the left, the “presidential and governmental action is not convincing....” He would soon have to be sacked.

Suddenly the intervention in Mali. A savior. It was triggered when jihadists, who’d taken over parts of northern Mali, started rolling south towards Mopti, the second largest city. It has an airport, and a paved highway to the capital Bamako about 400 miles to the south. Mopti would have been the staging point for taking Bamako. So the French started bombing jihadist positions and convoys.

The intervention has monopolized French media with talking heads and voices of all stripes, and with a tsunami of articles, overflowing with support for the operations.

Just before 11 p.m. Monday night, Ayrault emerged from a meeting at the Hôtel Matignon, his official residence, where he’d briefed ranking Members of Parliament. Steely-voiced, he told his compatriots: “Faced with the threat of terrorism, the government’s commitment will not weaken. I welcome the support shown by all political forces.”

Every detail was suddenly important. Hollande left for Abu-Dhabi and Dubai, but even while traveling, he’d make decisions. Nigerian troops were on their way to Mali and would be there next week. Algeria, which borders Mali along the northern edge, vowed to close its borders, as did Mali’s other neighbors. According to witnesses, about 30 French armored vehicles entered Mali from the Ivorian border town Pôgô.

Tuareg rebels, who took control of the northern territory of Azawad early last year and declared its independence, only to be sidelined or run off by jihadists, had their own announcement: they offered to support the French. “We’re ready to help, we are already involved in the fight against terrorism,” said a representative of their National Movement for the Liberation of Azawad (MNLA).

All day, there was similarly exciting stuff to talk about—and the much maligned Prime Minister may have finally found his footing. Even Marine Le Pen, head of the right-wing National Front, who has relentlessly hammered away at the government, and who berated both the Hollande and Sarkozy governments for minimizing the “mounting Islamic fundamentalism in France,” well, even she grudgingly called Hollande’s decision “legitimate.”

There were a few holdouts however. Jean-Luc Mélenchon, left-wing firebrand and 4th in last year’s presidential elections, grumbled: “The UN mandate stipulated that this was an African problem to be resolved by Africans.” Not known for mincing words, he added, “They’re grown-ups, they have real countries, but yet again we find ourselves going back to our old bad habits of intervening here and there on the continent. We haven’t learned a single lesson.” And he asked, “Which of the wars over the last 20 years that had to be undertaken with urgency, and that would have solved a problem, actually succeeded?”

On the right, Dominique de Villepin, career diplomat, Prime Minister under Jacques Chirac, and archenemy of Sarkozy, penned an editorial that acknowledged the critical situation Mali found itself in when jihadists began rolling south, but... “Let’s not give in to the reflex of war for the sake of war,” he wrote. “The obvious haste, the déjà-vu of the arguments of the ‘war against terrorism’” worried him. “Let’s learn a lesson from a decade of lost wars, in Afghanistan, in Iraq, in Libya.”

Wars, he went on, “promote separatism, failed states, the iron law of armed militias.” He doubted that this war would lead to success; its goals were ill-defined, and France was fighting without a solid Malian partner. Pointing at the coups that had ousted the president in March and the prime minister in December, at the collapse of the divided army, and at the general failure of the state, he asked, “Who will support us?”

But for the moment, these concerns don’t matter. France has found a theme behind which to unite. To heck with the unemployment fiasco, the declining private sector, the collapsing auto industry. A breath of fresh air for the government. To be followed by a major jump in approval ratings. And Ayrault might cling to his job for a while longer.

Yet, the auto industry is at risk. “Volkswagen has chosen to wipe out PSA Peugeot Citroën,” said a source in Hollande’s entourage. But now there’s a plan, a desperate, misbegotten, taxpayer-funded deal. Read.... Secret French Plan In the European War Of The Automakers.

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THE DORK OF CORK's picture

Meanwhile in the street of Le Mans the tram sandworm / car killer is ripping up the ground of this sacred car town.


French tram policy seems more and more as just a mechanism to free up oil to be burned in cars elsewhere.

The non national Euro project has built China
It follows that its monetary destruction with capital returning to real borders will kill China and other Euro wage deflation / capital export jurisdictions.

But why are they doing this when it is such a obvious dead end ?
That is the greatest of the monetary mysteries.
The answer must reside in Lourdes or something.

Mary Mary ?…………………. what the fuck is happening girl.

Zola's picture

@Brocolli - "qui bene amat, bene castigat"...

THE DORK OF CORK's picture


Renault pissing all over the French……………..


These very long supply chains adds to the real non labour capital cost (see $ price of oil since 1998)

The efforts to extend the supply chain by building factories in cheaper labour places adds to the global capital costs - extracting real final demand & pushing up capital costs to unheard of and sustained levels.

The real question is why are they doing this ?
What is their objective as it is clearly catastrophic to final demand and non labour  capital inputs.

In the UK & France of the 1970s the entire car industry was in boxes a few hundred miles long.


THE DORK OF CORK's picture

The French auto industry crisis thingy is a classic labour theory of value crisis.

They simply refuse to pay workers in a national currency.



Something worth complaining about…………..in Le Mans – the home of the car.

“You must be more competitive ”

Car assembly may not involve much workers anymore but car parts manufacturing remains a relatively labour intensive Industry.


Its so obviously a labour theory of value thingy.

Why does France export its low value electricity ?




Volaille de Bresse's picture

Hey Bossuet don't fret : the comments section of ZH is full of Pub talk where 300-pound middle-aged obese white males barf their hatred against Jews, Blacks, French ppl, their own Gov., etc etc. 


It's just fantaisies : they're powerless harmless and dickless beyond comprehension! They're like pimply virgin teenagers telling others of their sexual exploits!


Read the ZH articles, avoid the "comments". 

Bossuet's picture


Le seul domaine dans lequel les précédents excellaient, c'était la communication, la communication, cette machine qui diminue (le mot est faible) les intellects.

Z'êtes forts, vous les étazuniens en matière de communication. Rappelez-moi le coût de la dernière campagne présidentielle ?


Never One Roach's picture

Does this mean the new Russian citizen Gerard Depardieu will return?

etresoi's picture

No, this means that Hollande has found a way to get Depardieu off the front pages.  He has even mollofied Bardot !!

Rogue Trooper's picture

I can see why the French see a WAR has an opportunity to reverse Hollande's popularity free-fall.  BUT the trouble is they are now really fuckin useless at it.... since De Gaulle killed hired all the local thugs to kill off what competent ones they did have good ones after the Algerian debarcle, i.e., the OAS.

Just sayin'

Manic by Proxy's picture

Well, I think the big question here is how we can blame this on Bush/Cheney. Anyone? Please be creative.

sun tzu's picture

The popular excuse that leftists like to use is that they were influenced by white guy aka Bush/Cheney, as if they had no mind of their own. It's the Man/System's fault.

are we there yet's picture

The US congress has a much lower popularity rating than Hollande as bad as his is.

ebworthen's picture

The French just don't get it.

They've let the Muslims invade their country.

Meanwhile, their Socialist/Crony Capitalism experiment has failed.

A bastion of Western Civilization going down the tubes; all that patty-cake with failed ideas and godlessness has left them out in the cold.

Not that he U.S. isn't headed down the same path but...

Azannoth's picture

A French destroyer is patrolling the Mediterranean, it spots a small boat with 4 men on board, after closer inspection they turn out to be "Muslim Rebels" heading for France.

The captain gets on the speakers and says "hey you, don't you think you should have brought more men with you?"

The men answer "the rest of us are already in your country we're the last boat!"

Bossuet's picture


Les musulmans envahissant la France ... hahaha, il faut arrêter le shoot de propagande !


strannick's picture

Railroaded by Socialists and steamrolled by Muslims. What was that about liberte fraternity and equality? What a merdre country.

One eyed man's picture

The French president is only a socialist. The US president is a Muslim and a socialist.

I think the French might fear MacDonald's more than they fear Islam. And now that I think about it, they might just be right!

Eireann go Brach's picture

French Fuckers! There should be an international law passed, whereby if you meet a French Person you are allowed to punch then in the face and get a reward for it!

Freddie's picture

I have more loathing for Americans who voted to destroy this country than the French.

Miffed Microbiologist's picture

Actually I did that 20 years ago in the Paris Metro when I guy pickpocketed me. Jumped him and kept punching until he handed my wallet back. Mr miffed said I just experienced every white American male's fantasy. I kinda felt guilty he didn't share the moment.


Super Broccoli's picture

i'm not french and i don't specially appreciate them but i don't get why americans can't stand them ... i mean you guys would still be the brit's slaves if France didn't help you during your revolution. Also France sold you Louisiana (not the current state, it's more like 1/3rd of the US) which you never paid for ... France also offered you the statute of Liberty ...

So where's all that hate coming from ?


Could it be because France requested his gold holdings in 1970 which forced Nixon to put an end to gold convertible dollars since the fucker couldn't stop printing like a mad Bernanke ? Are you going to hate Germany and the entire planet now ?

etresoi's picture
According to Sigmund Freud's doctrine of small differences, in order to create an effective image of the enemy one has to start with something quite similar to oneself. The mechanism is simple: if the Other is sufficiently similar to you, then you can successfully project all the things you don't like about yourself onto the Other while denying that you are like that at all.
Hobbleknee's picture

"So where's all that hate coming from?"


strannick's picture

Dude. You already arent doin that? Basically I see anyone in a beret, or with a skinny mustache, and I start chasing. I been wrong a few times, but I just want to be sure...

joego1's picture

Bamako, now that's a good name for a city about to be trashed.

ZeroAvatar's picture

Oh, it's already trashed.  Piles of trash and filth everywhere.  People herding goats in 'dumps'.

Mudja's picture

Those naughty rebels. How dare they.

Hold on, what's the difference between Libyan rebels, Syrian rebels, and Malian rebels?

Oh wait. I forgot, these Malian rebels aren't controlled and supported by TPTB...

Uchtdorf's picture

Neither were the Carolian rebels or the Virginian rebels or the Texan rebels...

worbsid's picture

Are you sure?  Where did they get the weapons and the convoy to head south?

lindaamick's picture

Good grief.  Are the French that stupid not to see this as a major distraction?

When will people see war for what it is?...a way for the elites; the owners of society to retain power and control over citizens. 

I give up.

fajensen's picture

According to the news here in Europe, France is ready to hand over the war to Obama. It's like that kind of friend who picks fights in bars and then their friends have to save them (and pay their drink too - of course).

Peter Pan's picture

This circus is going to be without bread for the French.

OldPhart's picture

Qu'ils mangent du gâteau

Matt's picture

You think TPTB arranged for the Taureg uprising and the influx of Jihadists?

NoDebt's picture

Zut alors!

OK, I have no idea what that means.

But what I do know is this.... when the money gets tight (or most of it taken, even if you can earn any), there ain't nobody happy in the streets. 

Freddie's picture

For all the French faults, they at least have honest pollsters.  81% of NY'ers (city) love Ob-Mao.  60% of Amerika loves him and ALL of TV and Hollywood bow to him.

The French polls tell the truth. Big difference.

Never One Roach's picture

Monday's surprise rebel assault and the downing of a French combat helicopter by rebel fire last week have given many pause. Just hours before Diabaly fell, a commander at the military post in Niono, the town immediately to the south, laughed on the phone, and confidently asserted that the Islamists would never take Niono.

By afternoon, the commander, who could not be named because he was not authorized to speak publicly, sounded almost desperate. "We feel truly threatened," he said.



SafelyGraze's picture

qu'il voulait dire, «d'abord, garces».

ZeroAvatar's picture

Even Jean-Luc PICARD has a bad rating in France. Just can't please 'em.

Peter Pan's picture

It is interesting how the Muslims overrunning Mali are more of a worry than the radical Muslims that have overrun France.

Bossuet's picture

Non, nom de dieu, les musulmans radicaux n'ont pas envahi la France ... incredible !