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Recently, France’s president François Hollande (Parti Socialiste) let the truth slip when he met with the Association of Presidential Press (Association de la presse présidentielle, or APP) for a dinner held at the Maison des Polytechniciens in Paris.

Over a three-hour period punctuated by duck terrine, chicken fillet and Breton shortbread, Hollande fielded questions from 100 journalists.

Marianne, the French newsweekly, reported one of his statements during the July 18, 2013 meeting (27 July – 2 August 2013, p. 19).

The magazine recalled what Hollande said upon arrival at Le Bourget in 2012 when he won the general election:

I love people.

A little over a year later, he told journalists:

I’m no friend of the French. (Je ne suis pas l’ami des Français.)

So, does that mean that he realises how unpopular he is? Or is he stating that he has little regard for his fellow countrymen?

Marianne believe it is the latter, particularly since they titled the blurb ‘Moi, votre ami?’ [‘Am I your friend?’]

The editorial team ask, with a sense of irony:

Has he matured between then and now?

Only a few months after the election, many Frenchmen (not Marianne, I hasten to add) were crying, ‘Come back, Nicolas [Sarkozy], all is forgiven.’

A recent national popularity poll showed that retired pop singer Jean-Jacques Goldman heads the list of most admired French people. Sarkozy arrived in a respectable 20th position with 19.6% of votes.

Hollande turned up in 44th place. He has plummeted in opinion polls throughout this year.

As for his comment, at least he was honest.

This is likely to rank right up there with Barack Obama’s denigrating remark about ‘bitter clingers’ in the 2008 campaign and, slightly earlier, British Prime Minister David Cameron’s self-description as ‘the heir to Blair’. True then, truer now.

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