Macron’s ratings near record low amid French protests over pension reforms

PARIS – French President Emmanuel Macron’s personal ratings are approaching their lowest recorded level over his handling of pension reform and protests, a poll showed on Tuesday.

The survey by the Odoxa polling group said only 30 per cent of respondents thought he was a “good” president, down by 6 percentage points in a month, while 70 per cent judged him negatively.

Mr Macron’s popularity is approaching the low reached in December 2018 during the so-called Yellow Vest anti-government demonstrations, when only 27 per cent of people held positive views of the president.

The survey, carried out for the Public Senat channel and regional newspapers, showed falls for most of the French political class amid increasingly violent protests against the government’s bid to raise the retirement age from 62 to 64.

Far-right leader Marine Le Pen saw her favourability rating slump three percentage points to 32 per cent. But the country’s most popular political figure, Mr Macron’s first prime minister, Mr Edouard Philippe, skidded by seven points to 34 per cent.

“If Edouard Philippe falls again next month, it’s likely that for the first time in the history of our political trackers (meaning six or seven decades), we would have someone from the far-right at the head of our table,” Odoxa said.

The survey showed 71 per cent of respondents favoured a referendum on raising the pension age and 67 per cent would vote against, with opposition to the move relatively stable since the start of 2023.

Rubbish on streets

Other surveys have also confirmed a slump in Mr Macron’s ratings, as rubbish builds up in the streets of Paris due a strike by refuse collectors and protesters blocking ports and refineries.

Tuesday marked the 10th day of national strikes and protests organised by trade unions since the start of 2023.

A poll by the BVA group published on Monday showed that 28 per cent had a positive view of the president, the lowest level since November 2018.

A tracking poll by the Ifop group published on March 19 showed 28 per cent of respondents were “satisfied” with the president, not far off the low of 23 per cent reached during the “Yellow Vest” crisis.

Even at these low levels, Mr Macron is still more popular than his predecessor, Mr Francois Hollande, while he was in office.

Mr Hollande, a Socialist, plumbed historic depths to a 4 per cent approval rating after the publication of a disastrous tell-all book that ended his hopes of seeking re-election.

Like his highly contested predecessor, Mr Nicolas Sarkozy, Mr Hollande has bounced back since leaving office and now figures among the most-liked political figures in France. AFP

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