French President Francois Hollande wavered on Thursday over his politically sensitive pledge to bring unemployment down by the end of the year, saying it would take as long as necessary.
The unpopular Socialist leader has staked his credibility on turning around the euro zone’s second-biggest economy and lowering the jobless rate, which now stands at 10.9 percent.
“It will be a battle, it’s a battle that we have taken on, fought month by month,” Hollande said during a visit to a Paris suburb, hours before October jobless claims were due to be published. “We will have to work on it relentlessly and it will take as much time as necessary.”
Pressed later by journalists on whether his year-end deadline still stood, Hollande said “yes” without elaborating. An aide said the pledge was more a question of stabilising unemployment by the end of the year and then getting it lower.
The 10.9 percent unemployment rate is close to the all-time high of 11.2 percent set in 1997. As monthly jobless claims have hit record after record, Hollande’s popularity has fallen to lows never seen before for a president in France’s 55-year-old Fifth Republic.
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