News Analysis: 100 days in office, French President Macron's approval rating drops to 36 pct

Source: Xinhua| 2017-08-16 03:43:59|Editor: yan
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PARIS, Aug. 15 (Xinhua) -- The popularity of French President Emmanuel Macron, who celebrated Tuesday his 100 days in office, has dropped to a historical low, recent polls showed.

President Macron's approval rating dropped to 36 percent, a historical low for a French president's 100 days in modern era. His unpopularity rate is 10 points higher than his predecessor Francois Hollande, according to an Ifop poll published last Friday.

This was a sharp contrast with the 66.10 percent votes Macron obtained in the general elections on May 8, 2017.

The fall of his approval rating can be partly explained by the budgetary savings for 2017 initiated by the government, the departure of several ministers and the implementation of a project to moralize the country's political life.

What originally caused the decline in his popularity was the reforms initiated by the government, especially the reduction of housing subsidies of 5 euros per month starting from October.

"We need to undertake a comprehensive reform of personal housing subsidies, which is absolutely essential because we are dealing with amounts to be mastered but above all with structural reforms to be put in place," Jacques Mezard, Minister of Territorial Cohesion, told French radio station RTL in late July.

The announcement has triggered debates in France. For the opponents as well as a large number of French, the government attacks the poorest by lowering this aid.

Housing aid cost France 20 billion euros (23.47 billion U.S. dollars) last year, according to official figures. French Prime Minister Edouard Philippe has stressed the importance of reducing the housing aid cost, saying "we spend twice as much as our European neighbors on housing assistance."

Meanwhile, Macron's plan to trim defense budget spending by 850 million euros (980.4 million U.S. dollars) to help the nation meet the deficit target of 3 percent met opposition of France's most senior armed forces chief Pierre de Villiers, who resigned in July.

"Under the current circumstances I see myself no longer able to guarantee the robust defense force I believe necessary to guarantee the protection of France and the French people, today and tomorrow, and to sustain the aims of our country," de Villiers said in a statement.

In an interview with the French journal Le Figaro, Jerome Fourquet, director of the opinion and strategy department of the French Institute of Public Opinion, contributed the fall of the approval rating of the French president to those reforms he undertook.

"From the general policy speeches and the announcements of the cuts in various ministries, the comet of Macron has returned to the atmosphere. We are then struggling with the reality which is complicated, because there are arbitrages to take, means are narrow, and therefore discontent is generated, "said Mr. Fourquet.

The scandals involving several ministers of the government also damaged the image of the new team in public opinion, and therefore caused the sharp decline in the popularity rating of Emmanuel Macron.

The Minister of Territorial Cohesion Richard Ferrand, one of the faithful of Macron, is accused of having favored in 2011 his wife in a real estate market while he was director general of the Mutuelles de Bretagne and having hired his son in 2014 as a parliamentary collaborator while he was a socialist deputy.

The opposition quickly made it parallel with the so-called Penelopegate affair. Mr. Ferrand ended up by resignation, followed later by his colleagues of the Army, Sylvie Goulard; European Affairs, Marielle de Sarnez and Justice, Francois Bayrou.

These resignations took place at a time when the government was preparing to implement one of its campaign promises: the moralization of political life.