Americans have had a long-distance (political) crush on French president Emmanuel Macron for a while, but the number of articles about him has increased of a late. The surge comes from the most recent public polls by IFOP which reveal a steep drop in the approval ratings of the French president. The institute’s polls show him with 54% approval in July, and 36% approval in August. None of his predecessors has ever had numbers so low at this point in their term.
Of course, honeymoon periods must come to an end, but to look at the American press, the end of Macron’s honeymoon period means the death of his policy plan. Frenchly decided to look at how the two press corps are covering the dropping poll numbers.
For Robert Zaretsky in Foreign Policy, “Macron’s revolution is over before it started.” Tara John wrote in Time of a “plummeting” popularity. For the conservative magazine American Thinker, Rick Moran titled his article “Macron accused of duping France and his own supporters,” and The Atlantic named him “Monsieur Unpopular.” At Vox, Sarah Wildman implied a pan-European “fall from grace,” stating, “The leader Europe saw as the anti-Donald Trump is now about as popular in his own country as Trump is within the US.”
Eager to announce a politician’s downfall other than Trump, the American press began analyzing the causes.
Macron, according to Moran at American Thinker, made the same errors as Barack Obama, who also suffered a drop in popularity. “Obama’s soothing, uplifting rhetoric during the campaign did not match his radical agenda once he got into office. This kind of bait and switch is what Macron has been doing.”
Another possible reason: the unpopularity of the legislative measures being adopted (or simply suggested. “Macron has made a series of missteps that have led the French army’s top general to quit, turned the public against his wife, angered students and advocates for the poor,” argues Wildman at Vox, alluding to a debate over the reduction of housing vouchers (or APL in France). Wildman also suspects Macron’s seeming elitism has not served him well. “Hanging out with celebrity musicians [Rihanna and Bono] only cemented the idea that Macron isn’t a man of the people, even if those celebs were there to talk about the people.”
Following some intense analysis, The Atlantic had some advice for Macron: “If Jupiter, as many have taken to calling him, hopes to stay above the normal political fray and avoid mass protests threatened by some in the opposition, he may want to start listening.”
While the American press are running around like poules with their têtes cut off, what are the French press saying about the 36% approval rating of the French president?
France24 listed criticisms from French politicians about Macron’s first 100 days in office. Le Monde published an article featuring highlights of the first 100 days, including his relationship with Trump, and the investigations into his political associates. His 36% approval rating was not included. (Le Monde did report on when he dropped to a 56% approval in July, citing the poll numbers and quoting several En Marche deputies.)
Le Parisien kept things light, publishing 10 images that summarize Macron’s first 100 days in office. There are no articles about his low poll numbers. Le Figaro announced polling results in “The popularity of Macron and Philippe on the decline,” but had no analysis.
The publications that have analyzed Macron’s numbers have far from preached the end of his political revolution. Libération wrote that the first “100 days of Macron are no walk in the park.” The polls were mentioned, but author Matthieu Ecoiffier only commented, “The results aren’t surprising. Since the first round of voting, Macron has benefited from being a tool of the left and right against the FN. Now we’ve returned to the true low water level of En Marche.” Sud-Ouest questioned “Can Emmanuel Macron become popular again?” The director of polling group IFOP was there to respond. “It’s an alert signal,” he said of the polls. “It’s in the first months of a 5-year term that the image of a president forms and roots itself in public opinion. Once the assumptions have been made, it’s hard to escape them.”
It seems that the country that does not have Emmanuel Macron as president is far more preoccupied with his negative polls than his own country.
Additional reporting contributed to this article by Margaux Deuley.