French president Francois Hollande fights for his political life with a special television appearance aimed at bringing voters back on side. ''Things are going better'', he says - though many voters don't think so. David Pollard reports.
The numbers just aren't stacking up for Francois Hollande. Polls show 3 out 4 voters don't want him to stand again in elections in 2017. 87 per cent are unhappy with his four years so far. But as the French president took his place in the TV hot seat for a grilling by the public, the message was: it's not all bad. (SOUNDBITE) (French) FRENCH PRESIDENT FRANCOIS HOLLANDE, SAYING (PART OVERLAID A WIDE SHOT OF THE STUDIO): "Yes, things are going better: there is more growth, less deficit, less taxation, more competitiveness - more capacity to produce, better margins for companies, more purchasing power for workers." Other numbers speak otherwise. Unemployment at over 10 per cent - despite his efforts to get it down - one reason for a surge in street protests over recent weeks. Growth targetted this year at 1.5 per cent - but seen as unlikely. While two-thirds of left-wing voters - his traditional support base - think he should stand aside for another candidate next year. (SOUNDBITE) (French) PASSER BY, AREZKI SEHAD, SAYING: "He wants to do something for France but unfortunately, I think he's stuck." (SOUNDBITE) (French) PASSER BY, DANIEL CORBELET, SAYING: "Nothing's moving forward with this government, and it can't carry on. " But amid a lack of progress on key reforms - and slow recovery at best in the euro zone - Hollande is among a growing club. (SOUNDBITE) (English) CMC MARKETS, JASPER LAWLER, SAYING: "Some of the mainstream politicians have not been delivering on what the people want, and so you're naturally going to see popularity decline. Hollande has been in the presidency for a few years now, and it's probably just reached that cyclical stage where the French feel like they need something new." Or just a switch to something on the other channel. Hollande attracting just 3.5 million viewers for this debate - a million fewer than a crime serial on a rival network.