Six months on: Macron unpopular but in control

In his first six months in power, French President Emmanuel Macron has chalked up one reform after another in a whirlwind that has nevertheless seen his poll numbers plummet.

Six months on: Macron unpopular but in control
Photo: AFP
The former investment banker's stunning rise cast aside France's traditional left and right, creating a solid centrist front for his new
Republic on the Move (REM) party.
In short order, the 39-year-old has scored three major legislative triumphs, beginning with a law to clean up politics, followed by flagship reforms to France's complex labour code and a controversial anti-terror law.
The labour reforms sparked strikes and street protests, but they paled in comparison with those that have thwarted similar attempts by his predecessors.
But the young leader's zeal for reforms — and the use of executive decrees to overhaul the labour code, seen as a strong-arm tactic — has come with a cost.

French anti-terror bill explained: How emergency powers are now lawPhoto: AFP

The man who won two-thirds of the vote in May has an approval rating of just 32 percent in a YouGov poll out November 2.
But insiders says his poll standings do not worry him.
Long-term view
“He has a very long-term outlook and won't give up,” one close associate said.
The 2017 election left Hollande's Socialist Party in disarray, while the right-wing Republicans party is split between those who joined Macron's REM, such as Prime Minister Edouard Philippe, and those who want to stay in opposition.
Macron faces a tricky balancing act as he seeks to lower taxes while also slashing the deficit — something he sees as key to earning credibility with European leaders as he pushes for ambitious EU reforms.
Next on Macron's frenetic agenda are reforms to unemployment insurance, professional training, housing policy and academic selection.
Also in the pipeline are pension reform and a move to shrink parliament, where 577 people sit in the lower house and another 348 in the indirectly elected Senate.
Coming after two unpopular one-term presidents — the ineffectual Francois Hollande, preceded by the brash Nicolas Sarkozy — Macron is seeking to restore grandeur to the office and return France to prominence on the world stage.
Macron has called on EU member states to go much further in linking their economies, governments and armies, proposing a joint defence force, as well as new agencies for asylum and innovation and ideas for tax reform.
The Macron juggernaut has left little room for opposition.
French labour reforms: What's actually going to change for workers in France
Photo: AFP   
Neither the unions nor the radical left Unbowed France (LFI) party managed to head off the labour reforms that took effect in September.
LFI head Jean-Luc Melenchon himself admitted recently: “For now, he has the upper hand.”
For its part, the far-right National Front of Marine Le Pen is still reeling from her rout at the hands of Macron and intense in-fighting.
But the woes of his opponents do little to boost Macron's popularity as he struggles with charges of being the “president of the rich”.
The label has gained traction since he slashed a wealth tax while at the same time trimming housing benefits for students.
Elections far off
He hopes to correct the impression with changes that would benefit the middle class and the underprivileged, such as a lower social charges and residence taxes.
But Macron has come under fire for a series of comments seen as arrogant or out of touch.
Protesters seized on a remark directed at critics of his labour reforms, whom he called “slackers”, which spawned slogans such as “slackers of the world unite”.
Political scientist Bruno Cautres of the Cevipof think tank at Sciences Po university in Paris thinks that time is on Macron's side.
No elections are slated until the European Parliament vote in 2019, while the economy is looking up, Cautres noted.
Besides, a recent poll found that one in two French are willing to give
Macron more time to prove he is putting France on the right track.
But US news magazine Time took a tongue-in-cheek swipe at Macron's seemingly outsized ambition.
On a recent cover the weekly billed Macron as “the next leader of Europe — if only he can lead France”.


Macron to make live TV broadcast to France

French president Emmanuel Macron will make a live TV broadcast to the nation about the war in Ukraine.

Macron to make live TV broadcast to France

Macron will be on TV on Wednesday at 8pm, the Elysée confirmed earlier on Wednesday.

Macron also tweeted the announcement, saying that his speech will be on the subject of the war in Ukraine.

His office added that the president’s speech “will not touch on other matters” – Macron has only until Friday to confirm whether or not he is running for re-election.

It is widely considered to be extremely unlikely that he would not stand in the April elections, but all candidates have until Friday, March 4th, to make their declaration.

Macron’s team had previously announced a rally in Marseille on Saturday, March 5th, which was expected to be the first official campaign event, but on Tuesday this was cancelled because of the ongoing international crisis.

Macron was at the forefront of international efforts to find a diplomatic resolution to the crisis, and since Russia invaded Ukraine he has remained in close contact with Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky, and has also spoken – at the request of Zelensky – to Russian premier Vladimir Putin.

The Local will be following Macron’s speech live from 8pm HERE.