Majority Of People In France Dissatisfied With Macron

Sudip Kar-Gupta | Reuters

Majority Of People In France Dissatisfied With Macron
French President Emmanuel Macron reacts during a joint news conference with Bulgarian Prime Minister Boyko Borissov at Euxinograd residence, near Varna, Bulgaria, August 25, 2017. Credit: Reuters/Stoyan Nenov

PARIS (Reuters) – Most French voters are dissatisfied with Emmanuel Macron’s performance, a poll showed on Sunday, a dramatic decline for a president who basked in a landslide election victory less than four months ago.

The poll, conducted by Ifop for newspaper Le Journal du Dimanche (JDD), showed Macron’s “dissatisfaction rating” rising to 57 percent, from 43 percent in July.

Forty percent expressed satisfaction with the centrist leader – down 14 points from July.

French government spokesman Christophe Castaner said the ruling party was going through a tricky time, but added that displeasing some people was a price worth paying if the government wanted to push through reforms.

“Yes, we are encountering difficulties, but you cannot just spend your time only looking at polls when you’re in government. We are there to transform the country. Our country needs us to take risks, and we are taking risks,” Castaner told BFM TV.

Macron, for his part, spent Sunday holding a telephone dialogue with his Turkish counterpart Tayyip Erdogan, in which the two discussed the Syria and Middle East crisis and the fate of a French journalist detained in Turkey.

Macron has pushed himself onto the international stage since winning power in May. He hosted high-profile visits from Russian leader Vladimir Putin and U.S. President Donald Trump and he is midway through a series of visits to various European capitals.

However, he has suffered some setbacks at home, including tough debates in parliament over labor reforms, a standoff with the military and cuts to housing assistance.

Social media commentators and political opponents criticized the president after it emerged he spent 26,000 euros ($31,000) on makeup during his first 100 days in office and his office also backed down on plans to give his wife a formal, paid role after a public backlash.

Bernard Sananes, head of French polling company Elabe, said the latest survey could encourage Macron’s political opponents, after his party won a commanding majority in parliament.

“It could mean, for the government, that the opposition mobilizes itself again,” Sananes told BFM TV.

The Ifop poll showed the cumulative drop in Macron’s popularity ratings since May was bigger than that of previous Socialist president Francois Hollande over the same period.

The poll also showed a drop in popularity for Prime Minister Edouard Philippe, with 47 percent expressing satisfaction with him – down 9 points from last month.

Macron, France’s youngest leader since Napoleon, faces a big test next month when the far-left CGT trade union leads a rally to protest against plans to deregulate the jobs market.

“Now is the key time, with the labor executive orders to be presented,” said Francois Savary, chief investment officer at Geneva-based investment firm Prime Partners. ($1 = 0.8386 euros)