PARIS: French President Emmanuel Macron’s popularity has hit a new low, a poll showed on Sunday, following recent controversies over spending at his residences and cutting remarks he made on welfare benefits.
Despite upbeat business sentiment and rising foreign investments, the number of people with a favourable opinion of the 40-year-old leader dropped one percentage point in June to 40 percent, the Ifop poll for French weekly JDD showed.
Several prominent businessmen and economists have recently voiced concerns over Macron’s economic policies that are viewed as favouring the rich.
The former investment banker has justified the scrapping of the wealth tax, for example, with the metaphor of a lead mountaineer drawing up companions clinging to a rope below.
Macron also hit at France’s large social transfers this month, saying they cost “too much dough”.
Then this week reports emerged that taxpayers’ money will pay for dinner plates at the Elysee Palace and a new swimming pool at a presidential retreat on the Riviera.
“(These controversies) strengthen the sentiment of some sort of social contempt from the president,” Ifop’s deputy chief Frederic Dabi told JDD.
“There’s a feeling that the head of state is out of touch.”
Macron has dismissed accusations of being out of touch and arrogant, saying he wanted to restore dignity to the office of President.
“People are mixing up arrogance with determination and courage,” government spokesman Benjamin Griveaux told RTL radio station earlier this year, defending Macron’s reformist agenda.
The poll showed the decline in popularity was particularly acute among France’s over-65s — the age group where Macron found the strongest support in the presidential election last year.
In that category alone, Macron suffered an 8-point fall in one month to 38 percent, highlighting pensioners’ frustration over the higher tax bills they have been paying since the start of the year.
The Ifop poll was conducted among 1,963 people between June 15 and June 23. The margin of error is 2.2 percentage points.