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Published: Sunday April 13, 2014 MYT 7:10:02 AM
Updated: Sunday April 13, 2014 MYT 7:38:09 AM

France's Hollande approval at record low, prime minister far ahead

PARIS (Reuters) - French President Francois Hollande's popularity fell sharply in April to the lowest levels since he was elected in May 2012, taking his rating below that of the Prime Minister Manuel Valls to the largest gap ever calculated between the two titles.

Only 18 percent are satisfied with Hollande's performance, five points less than last month, after his Socialist party was routed in local elections for a failure to turn around the euro zone's second largest economy and combat an unemployment rate stuck at more than 10 percent.

Hollande reshuffled it cabinet in early April, putting former Interior Minister Valls to head the government after local elections in March resulted in a victory of the far-right National Front in a record number of towns.

Valls won an approval rating of 58 percent in a poll carried out during April 4 to April 12, gaining the strongest popularity

of a French Prime Minister at the beginning of the mandate.

On Saturday, another poll showed Valls presented a convincing speech in the parliament earlier this week. He unveiled planned tax and public spending cuts, vowing to bring France's public deficit down while resisting outright austerity.

The dominance in the approval rating of the prime minister over that of the president was at a record high, Ifop noted in its statement, with the second biggest gap attributed to Francois Fillon and Nicolas Sarkozy.

(Reporting by Marine Pennetier, writing by Maya Nikolaeva; Editing by David Gregorio)

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