– French President Francois Hollande said Tuesday, May 17 the battle against unemployment was not yet won as he vowed to stick with his controversial attempts to reform the labor market, AFP reports.
The reforms have sparked two months of street protests and led to an unsuccessful attempt to bring down the government.
But Hollande said he placed the need to reform over his personal popularity even as he weighs a possible bid for re-election next year.
“I will not give way because too many (previous) governments have backed down,” Hollande said in an hour-long interview with Europe 1 radio.
“I prefer that people have an image of a president who made reforms rather than a president who did nothing,” he said, according to AFP.
Truck drivers obstructed roads in western France on Tuesday as a week of strikes kicked off in protest at the package of reforms.
The government argues the changes will make the notoriously rigid labour market more flexible, but which opponents say will erode job security.
Hollande has pledged to decide at the end of this year whether to stand for re-election next May, but he said Tuesday he saw “no alternative” to himself on the left of French politics.
“If I am not there… if the left is not re-elected, the right or the extreme-right will win,” he said.
Hollande is staking his bid on bringing down unemployment, stuck stubbornly at above 10 percent, and at nearly 25 percent for young people.
“It takes time for those reforms to take effect,” Hollande said.