PRESIDENT François Hollande admitted he “has regrets” about his term in office during a television interview to mark the second anniversary of his election.
He said: "I was not elected because I had a brilliant campaign, but because my predecessor failed.”
As his popularity continues to fall, he said that he wanted his Presidency to be judged at the end of its term.
“I understand people’s anger,” he said, referring to the Socialists’ recent dismal showing in the local elections. “I am not deaf.”
Two years to the day after he was voted in to the Elysee, Mr Hollande answered questions posed by members of the public during an hour-long interview with BFMTV’s Jean-Jacques Bourdin that covered a range of topics including his private life, the economy and employment, taxation, Alstom, and reducing the number of regions.
The interview was part of a media campaign to try to reverse the downward trend of the President’s popularity. Two years after his election, Mr Hollande has become the most unpopular President of the Fifth Republic, with an approval rating of just 18% among voters.
As he had in January, when the scandal over his relationships was at its height, Mr Hollande refused to be drawn on his personal life. He said: “Privacy is privacy. There always has to be a simple relationship with the people: they judge me on what I do.”
He was asked repeatedly about his handling of the economic crisis during the campaign and the first months of his Presidency.
He said: “Have I concealed the seriousness of the crisis? No, I mentioned during the presidential campaign. Have I not said enough after the election that the situation I found was serious ? Yes, I have not said enough.”
He said that the government could do more to implement tax and regional reform to improve the economic situation. "We need to go even faster,” he said, “because, the situation is unbearable for the French. People want results.
"We will move faster on land reform, on simplifying bureaucracy, on relief on the cost of labour. We will move even faster to reduce taxes."
And he described the jobless situation as “My obsession, my fight.”
A day after the French government rejected General Electric’s bid for French engineering giant Alstom, he said: General Electric’s takeover bid "is not sufficient, it is not acceptable in the State.
“The role of the State is to get all the answers to all the questions and ensure that the national interest can be preserved."
He also suggested postponing next year’s regional elections, saying it would be wiser to wait until after the planned reduction in the number of regions in France.
“It would be smart to hold regional and departmental elections after the reduction," he said.
He promised he would continue to fight for France. He said: "It is not my re-election, but the future of France, that concerns me."
Photo: BFMTV / screengrab