Macron's popularity at record lows

2018-09-23 17:44
France's President Emmanuel Macron gives his speech during the AMF congress, the annual meeting of French mayors, in Paris on November 23. (Thibault Camus, AP)

France's President Emmanuel Macron gives his speech during the AMF congress, the annual meeting of French mayors, in Paris on November 23. (Thibault Camus, AP)

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Paris - The popularity of French President Emmanuel Macron has hit its lowest level since the start of his term, according to a major tracker poll published on Sunday, with just 29% of respondents satisfied with his leadership.

The poll by research group Ifop and published in the Journal du Dimanche showed an overall fall of five points in September compared with August, reflecting the 40-year-old's battle with a series of domestic and foreign setbacks.

The results of the widely watched Ifop poll are broadly in line with other surveys that have shown the approval ratings of the centrist falling sharply following a scandal involving a security aide in July.

A separate poll by the Kantar Sofres Onepoint group published on September 17 showed that only 19% of French people had a positive view of Macron's record, while another survey on September 11 showed only 29% thought he was a "good president".

The results reinforce a longer-term trend of French voters turning quickly on their presidents soon after their election - something suffered by Macron's predecessors Francois Hollande and Nicolas Sarkozy.

But many analysts also believe Macron has made a series of political errors, including failing to address the scandals over the summer quickly enough and repeatedly creating negative headlines with harsh or condescending remarks.

His leadership style was again questioned last week when he told an unemployed gardener that he should look for a job in a restaurant or on a building site and implied he was not searching hard enough.

Macron's biggest challenge remains the economy, however, with his pro-business reforms failing so far to produce a significant fall in unemployment or a major uptick in growth.

His government will unveil its draft budget for 2019 on Monday, which is set to see fresh efforts to rein in France's chronic overspending via cuts to the public sector payroll and caps on pensions.

The survey by Ifop published on Sunday was conducted between September 14-22 on 1 964 people.

Macron's approval rating of 29% includes 3.0% of people who declared themselves "very satisfied" and 26% who said they were "mostly satisfied".

Hollande had an inferior rating of 23% at the same time of his term and Sarkozy had a rating of 34%.

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