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French Voters Like Merkel, Back German Reform Example

FILE - Germany's Chancellor Angela Merkel (R) and France's President Francois Hollande arrive for a working session during an EU summit in Brussels, Oct. 24, 2014.

A majority of French voters view Germany's Angela Merkel positively and want their government to emulate her reforms, according to a poll published on Sunday, revealing a sharp contrast to President Francois Hollande's own dismal ratings.

Some 72 percent hold favorable opinions of the German chancellor, according to the poll for Le Journal du Dimanche - way above Hollande's approval ratings, which have sunk as low as 12 percent in recent months.

The French weekly commissioned the survey after Merkel raised hackles among France's ruling Socialists by urging Paris and Rome to do more to curb deficits.

But according to pollster Ifop, which contacted 1,011 French people of voting age, 64 percent believe France should follow the example of German economic reforms.

Finance Minister Michel Sapin and other leaders hit back last week after Merkel backed Brussels' demands that France and Italy take further steps to bring their budgets into line with European Union rules.

Populist Left Party co-founder Jean-Luc Melenchon went further in a tweet urging Merkel to “shut it.

But the poll's findings “prove that the Merkel-bashing hasn't worked”, Ifop's deputy director Frederic Dabi told the French newspaper.

Some 74 percent of respondents nonetheless said Berlin exerted too much influence on EU policy, and a similar proportion believed Germany faced problems with low pay and poverty. The newspaper did not specify a margin of error.