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French President Hollande's popularity sinks as new PM's rises

Popular approval for French President Francois Hollande has hit a new low of 18 percent, far below the 58 percent for his new Prime Minister Manuel Valls, an opinion poll showed Sunday. The least popular French president for decades, Hollande's poll rating fell five points, dipping below 20 percent for the first time since coming to power in 2012.

Thousands march in Paris, Rome against austerity, economic reforms

PARIS/ROME (Reuters) - Tens of thousands of people took part in protests in central Paris and Rome on Saturday organized by hard-left parties against government economic reform plans and austerity measures. The protest in Rome turned violent when a large splinter group - many wearing masks and helmets - threw rocks, eggs, firecrackers and oranges at riot police in front of the industry ministry.

Three charged over Hollande affair actress photo

A photographer and two executives at the magazine that exposed French President Francois Hollande's affair with an actress are to be charged under France's strict privacy laws, a prosecutor said Saturday. Photographer Laurent Viers and two Closer magazine executives will appear in court on July 1 charged with breach of privacy, which carries a maximum penalty of a year in jail and a fine of up to 45,000 euros ($62,500).

France's Hollande approval at record low, prime minister far ahead

PARIS (Reuters) - French President Francois Hollande's popularity fell sharply in April to the lowest levels since he was elected in May 2012, taking his rating below that of the Prime Minister Manuel Valls to the largest gap ever calculated between the two titles. Only 18 percent are satisfied with Hollande's performance, five points less than last month, after his Socialist party was routed in local elections for a failure to turn around the euro zone's second largest economy and combat an unemployment rate stuck at more than 10 percent.

Child custody case jolts French leader's Mexico trip

France's president traveled to Mexico to bury diplomatic tensions, but his ex-partner jarred his visit Thursday by championing the cause of a Frenchwoman's child custody battle with a former Mexican governor. President Enrique Pena Nieto treated French leader Francois Hollande to the full honors of a state visit, with cannon salvos at the Campo Marte military field in Mexico City.

French leader in Mexico to kick-start strained ties

French President Francois Hollande arrived in Mexico City late Wednesday for a trip aimed at renewing relations that were rocked by the case of a Frenchwoman accused of kidnapping. Hollande landed in the Mexican capital just before midnight for a two-day state visit that will include talks with President Enrique Pena Nieto, a visit to pre-Hispanic pyramids and a tour of a French aviation industry factories in central Mexico.

With one tweet, Hollande's ex puts pressure on Mexico trip

The French leader's jilted ex-girlfriend has stepped back into the limelight with a tweet urging Paris to help a woman who says her Mexican ex-husband abducted their children, just as Francois Hollande visits Mexico. Valerie Trierweiler, a glamorous journalist, had been keeping a low profile since she was dumped by the president earlier this year following revelations he had been having an affair with actress Julie Gayet.

With one tweet, Hollande's ex puts pressure on Mexico trip

The French leader's jilted ex-girlfriend has stepped back into the limelight with a tweet urging Paris to help a woman who says her Mexican ex-husband abducted their children, just as Francois Hollande visits Mexico. Valerie Trierweiler, a glamorous journalist, had been keeping a low profile since she was dumped by the president earlier this year following revelations he had been having an affair with actress Julie Gayet.

France's Hollande names European expert his chief of staff

PARIS (Reuters) - French President Francois Hollande appointed a close friend and former European affairs minister to the strategic post of his chief of staff on Wednesday and reshuffled his private office to tighten the country's relations with Brussels. The nomination of Jean-Pierre Jouyet as secretary-general of the presidency was also designed to ensure better coordination with the government of new Prime Minister Manuel Valls, Hollande told the daily Le Monde.

Valls seeks reform boost with French confidence vote

PARIS (Reuters) - New Prime Minister Manuel Valls will test France's political commitment to reform on Tuesday in a confidence vote that should allow the Socialist government to press ahead with a competitiveness drive. Valls, appointed by President Francois Hollande last week after the ruling Socialists suffered a rout in local elections, is to detail plans to phase out 30 billion euros ($41 billion) in payroll tax on companies in exchange for hiring.
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