Macron in trouble as forecast

When the new French president Emmanuel Macron took office on 14 May 2017, his approval rating stood at 62% and in June rose to 64%.

But this week, his rating has slumped to just 54%, the biggest drop since Jacques Chirac’s approval fell by 15 points between May and July 1995.

Even François Hollande, Macron’s highly unpopular predecessor, managed an approval rating of 56% at the same stage of his presidency.

Macron’s Prime Minister, Edouard Philippe, also lost support, dropping eight points to 56%.

As we forecast, however,

Any failure to alleviate the problems, however, is likely to exacerbate the country’s divisions.

This has now occurred. The problems in France, as in other western countries, are deeply entrenched, and proposed solutions will encounter resistance – not least because the solutions to country’s problems of excessive debt and structural unemployment do not necessarily coincide with the solutions to the problems confronting people on a daily basis and which have caused such fury across the West.

The paradox is that, as with President Trump in the United States, people seem surprised that Macron is doing what he promised. The left in particular are angry since, rather oddly, they saw Macron as progressive.

Yes, some of Macron’s policies are putatively leftist, but in yet another failure of analysis that is so common nowadays across the West, countless observers refused to understand what Macron was really saying in their euphoria at his new broom and his defeat of the right-wing populist challenger Marine Le Pen.

And yet, Macron will need to make savings of EUR 4.5 billion by the end of 2017 in line with EU rules that budgets must be under 3.0% of GDP.

But that’s not all. The government has announced plans to

  • make cuts of EUR 60 billion by 2022, including slashing EUR 13 billion from local government budgets by 2022, incensing mayors because that is EUR 3 billion more than he promised during the campaign
  • cut EUR 300 million off the higher education budget despite earlier commitments not to make any, infuriating university employees
  • slash the country’s defence budget by EUR 850 million, which led to the country’s head of the armed forces and top general Pierre de Villiers to resign on 19 July following a very public spat and accusations that Macron’s budget measures would make him unable to “guarantee” the “protection of France.”

Macron is also making unpopular changes to labour and pension laws, while his government faced inquiries into two different scandals, which in turn led to more high-profile resignations in June.

The country has been kept waiting to hear just when various certain tax reforms will go through – apparently not just Macron’s revamped version of Trump’s slogan Make our Planet Great Again has arrived in France.

He did little for his cause when he declared himself a “Jupiterian” President after the king of the Roman gods.

No wonder the left-wing newspaper Libération wrote that the president had a “little authoritarian fit,” saying this was a possible sign that he was drunk on power and that it was time for him “to grow up a bit.”

And no wonder either that Macron has cut back sharply his time with the media, rarely giving interviews, and has scrapped the off-the-record chats of his Socialist predecessor François Hollande.

He also cancelled the TV interview the French president usually gives on Bastille Day. Macron’s thoughts were “too complex” for such a format, claimed one of his aides.

As Sophie Claudet, Deputy Editor in Chief at Euronews tweeted,

The French president seems determined to stay the course, however, so much will depend on the strength of opposition to his policies.

Macron’s supporters believe that the population will come round when positive results start coming in, but that has to be achieved first.

Arnaud Leroy, a former MP and spokesman for Macron’s La République en Marche!, said that

Les mauvais sondages n’ont rien d’étonnant. On est obligé d’en passer par là si on veut réformer le pays.

The bad polls are not surprising. We have to go through that if we want to reform the country.

But in view of developments in the US and UK, several major western countries are close to becoming ungovernable, while Germany, the much vaunted new leader of the free world and climate change, has been hit by yet another emissions scandal.

 

 

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