S&P downgrade puts Hollande on the defensive

Nov. 9, 2013 at 10:32 AM

PARIS, Nov. 9 (UPI) -- French President Francois Hollande met with international banking officials after France's credit rating was cut and a poll showed his support at a record low.

Standard & Poor's downgraded France Friday from AA-plus to AA -- the second S&P downgrade in two years. The previous downgrade, in 2012, came just before voters turned former President Nicolas Sarkozy out of office and replaced him with Hollande.

Hollande's approval rating fell to 25, market research firm CSA said Friday. Support is even eroding in the Socialist stronghold of Brittany, an agricultural region where farmers are joining protests to complain about a new, so-called eco-tax that was created under Sarkozy and was to be put into effect by Hollande.

The government elected not to implement the tax -- the third tax that has been scrapped recently, including one that targeted savings products and a corporate tax that angered business leaders, Britain's Guaridan newspaper reported Saturday.

Hollande met Friday with the heads of the Intentional Monetary Fund and the Word Bank at the Elysee presidential palace, Radio France Internationale reported. He said he would "confirm his strategy," in the meeting, adding it would provide France with "national and social cohesion."

Right-wing leader Jean-Francois Cope said Hollande's strategy was "based on the continuous raising" of taxes.

France's unemployment rate is at a record 11 percent with 3.29 million people out of work, The Guardian reported.

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