A hotly contested rail reform, a new law cutting the speed limit on most roads to less than 50 mph and tax rises for pensioners have sent French president Emmanuel Macron’s approval ratings spiralling downwards, a poll showed on Tuesday.
The survey by pollster Odoxa for the French radio station France Inter and the weekly magazine L’Express showed that only 43 percent of French people think that the young centrist is a “good president,” down six percentage points from Odoxa’s previous poll in January.
Some 57 percent of respondents said Mr Macron was a “bad president,” according to the poll.
The president’s right-hand man, Edouard Philippe, is equally unpopular. Some 43 percent of those interviewed said that he was a “good prime minister,” compared to 56 percent who said the opposite.
While Mr Macron’s popularity rating has slumped by 11 percentage points since December in Odoxa polls, Mr Philippe’s has dropped by 14 points.
This is the lowest approval rating recorded by Odoxa for Mr Macron since he took power in May 2017.
Mr Macron and his premier are being assailed on several fronts by opponents and unionists opposed to their controversial reform plans.
While the decision to lower the speed limit from 56 mph to 50 mph on all single carriageway A and B roads in a bid to cut road deaths has sparked nationwide outrage, the government’s move to reform the state-owned rail operator SNCF by decree has incensed unionists, who have threatened to stage a “continuous strike”.
The French President’s government is pushing ahead with its plans to overhaul pension schemes, which involves scrapping rules allowing some state-employed rail workers to retire a decade early.
The head of France’s hard-left CGT trade union Philippe Martinez has pledged a day of national protest as he branded Mr Macron “arrogant and vindictive”.
Earlier this month, the powerful CGT union called for a nationwide strike on March 22 to protest against the government’s plans to end rail workers’ privileged status and prevent the changes from being implemented “by force”.
But even though Mr Macron has seen his popularity rapidly decline at home, he remains widely admired abroad, where he is seen by most as a reformist and power broker.
Among his admirers is US President Donald Trump, who has openly expressed his respect for Mr Macron.
The White House announced on Monday that Mr Trump would host the young centrist for a state visit in April, the administration’s first since the hardline Republican took office last January.
White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said: “The president and first lady will welcome President and Mrs Macron of France to the White House on April 24.
“The visit will advance American and French cooperation on economic and global issues and deepen the friendship between the two countries.”
Mr Macron’s office said in a brief statement that the visit would take place on April 23-25 and include a joint news conference, a meeting at the White House, several official ceremonies and a state dinner.
The Elysée Palace said in a statement: “The invite reflects the deep historical ties between our two countries … as well as the strength of the relationship between the two presidents.”
The Odoxa survey was carried out on February 21 and 22 with a sample of 973 people aged 18 and over.