The immediate explanation is not complicated and it is one familiar to most world leaders. The French economy is stalling, with unemployment stuck at 9.6%. The deficit does not equal Britain's, but its accumulated debt is just as heavy. The mood, says Socialist party spokesman Benoît Hamon, is despondent, especially among the young. "Graduates are doing jobs below their qualifications; young people owning their own property is unimaginable. They believe they will live less well than their parents and that the country is in decline."
Jonathan Freedland on the reasons for Sarkozy's diminishing popularity. As he points out it's a global situation; one that is being fought on the streets in the Middle East. As always leaders and despots should beware the young with no prospects.
He goes on:
Sarkozy's behaviour and temperament is simply unsuited to the grandeur of the office of president of the French Republic. He jogged wearing shorts on the steps of the Élysée Palace. On holiday with Carla Bruni he wore Ray-Ban sunglasses. He was photographed next to King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia, legs apart, poking at his mobile phone. He discussed "intimate" matters during a press conference. This is not how a French president behaves.
This will not come as a surprise to anyone, but I've heard similar criticisms of John Key, mostly that he's a "goon" and seems to be enjoying himself too much during serious occasions (greeting the crowds at Galipoli like a rock star springs to mind). But the concerns, as far as I can tell, seem to mostly reside with the left, grown used to years of Helen Clark's aloof stateliness. Unlike the French, apparently, New Zealanders don't like their leaders to float too much above the crowd and so Clark was considered "arrogant" and "out of touch" while Key is "a good bloke" and "accessible."