French President Hollande's approval rating stable, poll shows

French President Francois Hollande waves to well-wishers as he leaves after he delivered his New Year's greetings to the residents of the region of Correze, in Tulle, central France, January 18, 2014. REUTERS/Philippe Wojazer (Reuters)

PARIS (Reuters) - French President Francois Hollande's approval rating remained unchanged following a news conference to announce economic reforms and after reports of an affair with actress Julie Gayet put his private life in the spotlight, a poll showed. Twenty-two percent of those interviewed were satisfied with Hollande as president, unchanged from a month earlier, according to the Ifop poll carried out for Le Journal du Dimanche newspaper by phone between January 10 and January 18. The rating was the same before and after Tuesday's New Year news conference, the newspaper reported on Sunday. Ifop surveyed 1,950 people aged 18 and over. Hollande brushed off questions about his private life at the event after celebrity magazine Closer published pictures the previous week of what it said was the president wearing a motorcycle helmet visiting Gayet for nocturnal trysts. The Socialist leader's ratings have improved slightly since hitting a post-World War Two record low of 15 percent in one November poll. But they remain far below those of former conservative President Nicolas Sarkozy at the same period in his 2007-2012 presidency. Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault saw his approval rating improve by 2 percentage points to 26 percent, meanwhile, the poll showed. (Reporting by James Regan; Editing by Mark Potter)