Emmanuel Macron faces election crisis as poll shows French turning ‘against Europe’
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The French President faces a crucial year as he ramps up his preparations for the election in May 2021 as he tries to win a second term in office. But Mr Macron is coming under increased pressure, primarily around his government’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic, attempted reforms in France and surging Frexit calls for the country to have a say on its relationship with the EU. The French Government has recently imposed a 6pm curfew in a desperate attempt to curb the spread of coronavirus, which has so far infected more than three million people – the highest among the EU’s 27 member states.
But with the introduction of a new strict curfew comes a huge element of risk as the longer people find themselves confined to their homes, the more pessimistic they are likely to become.
After the first lockdown during the midst of the pandemic last year, several polls showed the French reacted relatively positively, but fears over their future and health risks are increasing with further lockdowns and curfews.
A new Isop poll, which quizzed 2,013 adults in France from January 5-7 shows while people agree with Mr Macron’s mandate to transform the country, there is very little evidence of significant change since he came to power three years ago.
The coronavirus pandemic and resulting lockdowns may also have swayed public opinion.
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Transformation and change are still terms resonating well with 70 percent of those polled, but more than two thirds (68 percent) also said the reforms implemented during Mr Macron’s presidency had a negative impact on them, particularly among the elderly and low income classes.
The most desired protective measures are: relocation of companies, border controls, reduced inequality and fighting against Islamist radicals.
There also appears to be a falling opinion of start-ups in France and the growing influence of Europe.
Just over a third (34 percent) are in favour of a digitalised France, down from 50 percent in 2017, while the desire for for less from Europe has increased from 44 percent to 49 percent.
Wolfgang Munchau, director of politic analysts Eurointelligence, tweeted: “Since the pandemic there has been a shift in French public opinion – against digitalisation, against deregulation, and against Europe.”
The latest blow to Mr Macron comes after another poll showed his popularity among French people has continued to plummet.
The latest Kantar-one point barometer for Figaro Magazine last week showed the French are increasingly turning on the President, with his rating down two points compared to the poll conducted in December and four points versus the one taken in November.
In the poll of 1,000 adults from January 7-11, only thirty-six percent of people questioned said they trust Mr Macron to solve the problems that are currently facing France, while just under two-thirds (61 percent) didn’t have faith in him.
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The level of confidence among people under 25, which had fallen sharply in recent months, has increased five points to 38 percent.
But the latest poll found there had been a significant dip in confidence among those aged 65 and over, with the rating falling seven points to 37 percent.
In a further blow, Mr Macron has also seen confidence in his ruling party, République en Marche, slump sharply by six points from the previous poll to 85 percent.
But support elsewhere has grown, with the President’s confidence rating improving among PS supporters up by seven points to 41 percent, and among those backing Europe Ecologie Les Verts by eight points to 38 percent.
Like Mr Macron, confidence in Prime Minister Jean Castex has not improved and in the latest poll, remaining stable at 30 percent, which Kantar warned “remains at a low level for a Prime Minister”.
Additional reporting by Maria Ortega.
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