August 04, 2017
This is the last news briefing before our summer break, which is just as well because the eurozone news flow is reduced to a seasonal trickle. We will be back on Monday, August 21.
Our main story is the astonishing decline in Emmanuel Macron's popularity. It raises questions of how he will carry through his domestic reforms and, more importantly for us, his eurozone reform agenda. For such doubts to arise when a president enjoys such a large majority in the National Assembly is even more astonishing.
Barely three months after Macron won the presidential election, and two months after his brand swept the legislative election, his popularity with the French public has taken a dive which according to Le Figaro is nearly unprecedented in the early months of a presidency. The degree of Macron's unpopularity is only exceeded by that of Jacques Chirac after he was elected to his first term in 1995. Analysts quoted by Le Figaro attribute Macron's drop in popularity to having started his presidency on a strong austerity drive, which had caused grievances in several different population groups, from public servants to pensioners. In addition, his pompous reception of Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin have put off especially the left-leaning voters, and the resignation of the joint chief of staff of the armed forces after public dressing-down has alienated conservatives. A segment of the population is beginning to believe that Macron's seduction and communication was a front for just another austerity agenda.
An Elabe poll finds that only 40% trust Macron's ability to take on the country's problems, with 55% not trusting him. The mistrust extends to Édouard Philippe, who according to another poll by Les Échos has the trust of 36% of the public, against 51% who don't trust him. Finally, a YouGov poll finds only 36% judge Macron's government action positively, against 49% who have an unfavourable opinion. A fourth poll by Huffington Post France has only 37% hold a favourable opinion of Phillippe. The problem with the Figaro article is that it juxtaposes disparate single polls by different pollsters, so figures cannot be compared directly. Still, the drop in Macron's popularity is unquestionable and was already visible last month, as an Ifop poll for July showed a 10% drop in the percentage of respondents who were satisfied with Macron's government: 54% in July down from 64% in June.
We also have stories on what the diesel cartel scandal tells us about EU corporatism; on whether the Catalan independence drive is for real; and on the latest ECB paper on fiscal policy.