Published On: Thu, Sep 26th, 2019

Macron’s presidency in tatters: Le Pen sees popularity surge to be hot on leader’s heels | World | News

The poll, conducted by Odoxa-CGI for France Inter radio, L’Express magazine and the presse regional, found some 36 percent of French people have a positive opinion of Mr Macron, compared with 28 percent for Mme Le Pen, president of the long-ostracised Rassemblement national (RN) party. Mme Le Pen lost out to M Macron in the 2017 presidential race, but her anti-Brussels RN came top in France’s May 26 European parliament elections, giving her party renewed momentum and confidence.

The RN, formerly known as the Front National (FN), won 23.6 percent of the EU vote, a little over one percentage point ahead of M Macron’s centrist La République en Marche (LREM) list on 22.4 percent.

The result dealt a brutal blow to the 41-year-old leader, who has put Europe at the heart of his presidency and had personally invested time in the campaign.

But Mme Le Pen and her protégé, 23-year-old MEP Jordan Bardella, successfully turned the EU election into a referendum on M Macron’s first two years in power, urging supporters to voice their rejection of the president’s economic reforms and pro-European policies.

“The French people have sent a very clear message and a lesson in humility to M Macron… It’s him and his politics that have been rejected,” M Bardella told supporters after the RN’s victory was confirmed.  

M Macron – whose rapid rise to power shattered the country’s traditional centre-right and centre-left blocs – had portrayed the vote as a battle between anti-immigration nationalists such as Mme Le Pen and europhile progressives such as himself.

But his critics said his failure to beat the RN highlighted the scepticism at his business-friendly agenda felt by a large chunk of voters and played out in the streets since late last year during anti-government yellow vest protests.  

The citizen-led movement started as an outcry over planned fuel tax hikes and rising living costs, but rapidly snowballed into a broader working-class rebellion against M Macron’s pro-business policies and aloof governing style.

Mme Le Pen and her allies have sought to harness the simmering anti-Macron sentiment and popular anger behind the weekly demonstrations, pledging earlier this month to improve purchasing power, halt or reverse privatisations and tackle rural decline.

The Odoxa-CGI poll of 1,005 people was carried out online between September 18-19.

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