French President Francois Hollande will take part in a live national television programme Thursday evening to explain his highly unpopular policies since he was elected in May 2012 and also indicate where his priorities lie for the second half of his five-year term.
Hollande will take questions from journalists on the "TF1" channel here, but he will also answer the queries and, no doubt, complaints of four ordinary citizens, including a business leader from the small and medium company sector, a student and a rural inhabitant and a worker.
While the journalists' questions are unlikely to greatly upset Hollande or further harm his poor image as they will be a professional and habitual exchange, the role played by "pre-selected" citizens can often become difficult for the President as these participants often ask direct and frank questions that can be more difficult to answer.
Hollande, whose confidence-rating is below 10 percent currently, hopes to boost his popularity and gain some ground at the half-way point in his term, but given the economic fundamentals in France and the limited margin for manoeuvre for the French government, it is difficult to see how this exercise can be a major success. The President has little he can concretely bring to the table and France will continue a similar policy of budget restrictions and austerity in line with European imperatives and rules regulated by Brussels.
Economically, France has stagnant growth, unemployment at well over 10 percent and a budget deficit of over 4.0 percent while the EU requires that level to be 3.0 percent. In addition, France's national debt is over 93 percent of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) at Euros 1.93 Trillion, well above generally acceptable levels and at a level which could jeopardise France's future capacity to borrow at low rates on international markets if the government strays from its budgetary austerity.