Fewer than one-in-five French people approve of Emmanuel Macron’s performance since he became president 16 months ago, according to a poll published on Sunday.
The survey of 1,013 adults by Kantar Sofres-onepoint for RTL, LCI and Le Figaro showed that 60 percent have a negative view of his presidency so far, with 19 percent holding a positive opinion. The remainder either had no opinion or were undecided.
The top concern for 55 percent of those polled was improving purchasing power, while unemployment was a priority for 40 percent and reducing taxes was a key issue for 39 percent.
Reacting on LCI TV, Christophe Castaner, leader of Macron’s Republic On The Move party, acknowledged the figure was “bad” and said it “reflects the impatience, the expectations, the demands of the French people.”
Macron, elected with 66 percent of the vote in May 2017, has seen his popularity tumble in recent opinion polls in part since his moves to reform the labor market have been viewed as benefiting business and the rich. He unveiled an 8 billion euro ($9.3 billion) plan to combat poverty on Thursday to counter his critics.
The president’s room for maneuver meanwhile is being constrained by a weaker-than-expected economy that prompted the government to cut its prediction for growth, and raise its debt and deficit forecasts last week.
“The French people sometimes think that with a wave of a magic wand or a click of the fingers we can repair this country, which was greatly weakened and still is today,” Castaner said. “But it takes time.”
Asked about spending power, the close ally of the president said salaried workers should see a significant rise in net pay at the end of October, while four-fifths of people would have a 30 percent drop in residence tax in the coming weeks.
“The best way to improve purchasing power is to make sure people who don’t have a job can find one,” Castaner said. The Bank of France has predicted unemployment will fall to 8.5 percent in 2020 from 9.1 percent this year.
The poll was carried out online between Sept. 11 and Sept. 13. For 14 percent of participants, it was too soon to judge Macron’s performance, while 7 percent had no opinion.
An Ipsos poll for Le Point magazine published last week showed Macron’s approval rating in September had fallen seven points to 25 percent, the lowest level since he became president.
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