Popularity of France’s upstart new president fading fast

PARIS (AP) — Emmanuel Macron’s honeymoon didn’t last long.

Less than three months after his election, France’s energetic and image-conscious president has seen his popularity drop after announcing budget cuts, launching a divisive labor reform and engaging in a damaging dispute with the military.

A series of opinion polls last week showed the percentage of French citizens who said they were satisfied with Macron’s policies and trusted their young leader to deal with the country’s problems plunging. The reversal might not affect the visible international profile he has cut since taking office, but it could hurt Macron’s ability to secure his ambitious domestic agenda.

France’s Ifop polling agency put it bluntly: “Apart from Jacques Chirac in July 1995, a newly elected president has never seen his popularity rate falling as quickly during the summer after the election.”

Four polls over the past week showed Macron’s support down sharply from earlier surveys, though each one measured popularity differently. The polls by Ifop, Harris Interactive, YouGov and Elabe showed between 36 and 54 percent of respondents with positive views of Macron’s presidency, a decline from previous gauges of public opinion that also had shown his approval ratings down since he won 66 percent of the vote in the May election.

His declining approval is striking given that Macron was being credited two months ago with giving France a boost of much-needed confidence after years of security fears and economic stagnation. Increasingly, he instead is portrayed as power-hungry and inexperienced.

The French media have started calling Macron “Jupiter,” a reference to the mythological king of the Roman gods and what is perceived as the president’s superior attitude after he upended France’s political landscape and shot from relative obscurity to the nation’s top post at age 39.

While struggling at home, Macron has succeeded in raising France’s diplomatic profile, hosting meetings with Russian President Vladimir Putin and President Donald Trump and Libyan peace talks in Paris.

Jean-Daniel Levy, director of the Policy and Opinion Department at the Harris Interactive polling institute, connects the president’s popularity slide to the government’s plans to reduce housing aid for students and to initiate tax reform. The reform aims to help lower-income employees, but could weigh on retirees.

Macron’s image also took a hit during his standoff with the French military chief over budget cuts. Gen. Pierre…

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