French politics: Vallsmania

Manuel Valls fixing tie of President François Hollande
Valls ties the boss in knots

WHEN President François Hollande chose Manuel Valls as his new prime minister, he took a big gamble. His hope was that some of the popularity of the tough-talking, action-man Socialist would rub off on him. Instead, the opposite seems to be happening. Mr Valls’s popularity rating, at 58%, is the highest for a new mid-term prime minister in the Fifth Republic, but Mr Hollande’s has dropped to a new low of just 18%.The only previous occasion when a mid-term prime minister got close to such highs was 1997, when Lionel Jospin was made head of a Socialist government under the Gaullist Jacques Chirac, and won 47% approval. Yet this was during political cohabitation between the left and right. Exclude such periods, and the popularity gap between Mr Hollande and Mr Valls, at 40 points, sets a modern record, according to Ifop, a pollster whose ratings go back to Charles de Gaulle.Mr Hollande has lost support across the political spectrum, including on the left. Among Socialist voters, his rating has crumbled from 60% in March to 48%. Another poll this week…

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