When Emmanuel Macron was elected President of France two years ago, he was riding high and his approval rating was well above 60%. But from there it’s been down, down, down, all the way to its low point of 23% in December. His approval rating has recovered a bit since then but it’s still only up to 29%. How bad is that? For comparison, President Donald Trump’s approval rating has never gotten below 35%.
Why is Macron so unpopular? You might think it’s because he perceived as arrogant, or because he’s “the President of the rich,” or because of all the gilets jaunes violence. And that may be true, but there could also be a simpler explanation: he’s unpopular because he’s the president of France.
It’s true, the French have a habit of falling out of love with their presidents.
Look at the job approval ratings of Macron and his two immediate predecessors, François Hollande and Nicolas Sarkozy. Like Macron, they both started out above 60% approval and then it went down, down, down. Sarkozy’s ratings had recovered somewhat at the two-year mark of his presidency, while Hollande went on to become the least popular president of France’s Fifth Republic, dating all the way back to 1958.
Going back further in history is no better for presidents. François Mitterand’s approval rating in 1991 was 29%. Jacques Chirac had a 26% approval rating in June 2005, giving him the title of most unpopular president of the Fifth Republic (that is, until Hollande came along).
So what does the future hold for Macron? He’s made a valiant effort at responding to critics, launching a “grand debate” and proposing a series of new measures. But he’s got to be nervous because of what happened to Hollande and Sarkozy: neither one was elected to a second term. So keep an eye on those approval ratings — Macron certainly will be.
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