French President Falls Sharply in the Polls

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Emmanuel Macron’s popularity has fallen a record 24 points in two months. Only 40% of those polled say they are satisfied with the country’s youngest ever president, according to an Ifop poll published in the weekly Journal du Dimanche. Fifty-seven percent said they are dissatisfied with the job he is doing.

The poll comes just before France goes back to work after the traditional August vacation break. In September, Macron plans on imposing labor reforms through decree but will face major opposition in the streets: Unions plan to march on September 12th and the leftist opposition Insoumis Party is calling for a protest on the 23rd.

Civil servants are angry at proposed wage freezes and cutting the public sector by 120,000 jobs. A fifth of the country’s work force are on the public payroll. Macron complained last week that “France is un-reformable” but intends to keep his promise of making it easier and less expensive to lay-off workers and to hire them for multiple temporary contracts. He also wants companies to be able to negotiate with workers independently, reducing the power of unions to control whole industrial sectors.

Unemployment remains stubbornly high at around 10%, with 25% of the youth jobless. The country’s debt is nearly 100% of GDP. Macron has promised to reduce spending by 60 billion Euros in the next five years and bring the deficit below 3% of GDP imposed by the Maastricht Treaty; a goal the country may miss again this year.

Macron is turning to Europe for help but his heated row last week with Poland over ‘posted workers’, those paid lower wages in their home countries to work in other EU countries, demonstrates he faces tough opposition.

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