New polls from earlier this month show that public approval of French President Jacques Chirac and Prime Minister Dominique de Villepin has either held steady or risen slightly since September. Chirac's favorability rating is now at 45% and his approval is 38%. On the question "What is your opinion of prime minister Dominique de Villepin?", Villepin jumped to 37% Good, an 11 point increase since June. While these certainly aren't rosy numbers, they do make it more difficult for Sarkozy to get a united UMP behind him in the run-up to the election. Chirac and Villepin still haven't ruled out running for their party's nomination, although this may just be anti-Sarkozy posturing.
Whatever the case may be, Sarkozy's biggest challenge will be getting the full support of his party. He is running 50-50 with Socialist candidate Segolene Royal in a hypothetical matchup, so he will need every vote he can squeeze from the right in the general election. And as some of Royal's ideas stretch into the conservative realm, he will need to make sure that he doesn't alienate those precious votes in the center.
Technorati tags: Ségolène Royal, Segolene Royal, Nicolas Sarkozy, Chirac, Villepin, UMP, politics, politique, présidentielle, France