July 24, 2017
Macron's popularity falls amid more budget cuts
Emmanuel Macron’s popularity is falling sharply. The Ifop poll for Journal du Dimanche registered a ten-point fall in just one month. Only one other president, Jacques Chirac, lost as much in the third month of his presidency. There is still a majority (54%) satisfied with the president, but his popularity is below that of Francois Hollande or Nicolas Sarkozy at the same point in time. The decline in popularity is explained by the standoff with the military, the labour reform, and the back-and-forth about tax reforms.
Will further reforms help or worsen his popularity? The main obstacle is actually an old problem: how to compile a budget that reduces the public deficit below 3% and still delivers promised reforms. All current obstacles are budget-related, notes Nicolas Beytout in l’Opinion. The conflict with the military was about expenses, the discontent of the mayors is about revenues. And the subject of the latest controversy, the cut in personalised household benefits (APL), is about spending cuts. None of these measures have been well explained on the campaign trail. Expect the fall in popularity to continue into the autumn.
The latest outcry is about an announced cut of the personalised household benefits by €5 per month. The left came out strongly against this measure, accusing the government of offering tax reductions for the rich while punishing poorer households. The problem with this measure is that it is a flat spending cut that also hits poor households, the magazine Marianne points out. Of the 6.5m of households who received it, about 800,000 are students. And 48% of the benefit goes to households in the lowest 10% income bracket. The spending minister defended the measure by saying the previous government voted for the same measure but did not implement it. This provoked a strong denial by members of the former Socialist government, who insisted that their measure was tailored to hit only those households with at least €30,000 income, or those paying wealth tax.