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France leads world as gloomiest over economy: poll

France's President Sarkozy makes a statement after ministerial meeting at the Elysee Palace in Paris
France's President Sarkozy makes a statement after ministerial meeting at the Elysee Palace in Paris

PARIS (Reuters) - France leads the world as the "most pessimistic" country in terms of the economic outlook, with the lowest recorded score in more than 30 years, according to a global poll published on Friday.

The "End of Year" survey by Gallup International of 51 countries found that France beat second placed Ireland and third placed Austria for the dubious recognition as most pessimistic, economically-speaking.

Its score of negative 79, a drop of 20 points from last year, was the lowest the poll has recorded since 1978.

"Even in 1978, after the second oil crisis that called into question an entire economic system, the French have never shown themselves as pessimistic as today," said the poll.

"Europe leads in despair, followed by North America," it said. "The rest of the world, lead by Africa, remains mostly optimistic."

With an April presidential election on the horizon and a euro zone crisis threatening havoc at home and on the continent, French voters are increasingly gloomy.

Concerns are pervasive over high unemployment, dwindling purchasing power and the fear that France's traditionally strong social support system is unraveling, even though France has mostly been spared the austerity measures taken in countries such as Greece and Spain.

"After the Second World War, there was reconstruction and our country was one of the pioneers of Europe. Today the French 'Savior State' model, praised by both Left and Right for decades, is basically considered obsolete," said the poll. "What can the French be proud of tomorrow?"

Among a list of 51 countries, Nigeria was found to be the most optimistic country, when considering economic prosperity, followed by Vietnam and Ghana.

Between 500 and 2,700 people were interviewed in each country either by phone, via the Internet or in person between October 26 and December 13.

The survey in France, conducted by BVA, took place between December 2 and 4.

(Reporting by Alexandria Sage; Editing by Matthew Jones)

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