Marine Le Pen Approval Ratings Up After Nice Attack


PARIS (Reuters) – Marine Le Pen, leader of the anti-immigrant Front National party, saw her rating in the BVA poll rise three percentage points to 27 percent after the Nice attack.

French President Francois Hollande’s popularity rating has inched up from near record lows this month, despite heavy criticism he received over security issues since the Bastille Day attack in Nice, two polls showed.

Nineteen percent of those surveyed in a BVA poll published on Saturday said they had a favourable opinion of Hollande, up from a record low of 18 percent in June.

The poll for Orange and Itele was conducted on July 20-21, days after a delivery man in Nice killed 84 people when he drove his truck through a crowd of revellers leaving a July 14 fireworks display on the beach front promenade.

A July 22-23 Ifop poll for the Journal du Dimanche published on Sunday showed a bigger improvement, with those satisfied with the president rising three percentage points to a five-month high of 17 percent.

It had fallen to a near record low of 14 percent in June as Hollande’s government faced a series of strikes and violent street protests over a contested labour reform.

While that standoff has subsided as the government forced the law through parliament despite opposition from leftwing lawmakers, the government has been heavily criticised over security since the attack in Nice.

Conservatives with an eye on a presidential election nine months away lost no time criticising Hollande’s Socialist government for not doing more following last November’s terrorist attacks in Paris that left 130 dead.

His Prime Minister Manuel Valls, who was jeered by a crowd in Nice at a commemoration for the victims there, saw his popularity rating dip in the BVA poll to a record low of 24 percent from 25 percent in June. In the Ifop poll his rating was unchanged from June at 21 percent.

Hollande’s government has ordered an inquiry into policing on the night of the attack in the Riviera city in a bid to dispel criticism that security was inadequate.

Known for tough talk on security and immigration issues, conservative former president Nicolas Sarkozy saw his rating jump four percentage points to 24 percent in the BVA poll.

That helped narrow some of the ground between him and Alain Juppe, his main rival to be the conservative Republicains’ candidate for president.

Juppe, who is not seen as strong on security issues and was left scrambling to sound tough after the attack in Nice, saw his rating fall two percentage points to 42 percent, although he remained the most popular politician, according to the BVA poll.

The attack led Hollande to reverse plans to end a state of emergency in place since the Nov. 13 attacks in Paris and instead extend it another six months, which lawmakers approved on Wednesday.

(Reporting by Leigh Thomas; Editing by Hugh Lawson and Louise Heavens)


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