In July, research conducted by Redfield & Wilton Strategies indicated that the French President Emmanuel Macron experienced low approval ratings while the new Government, formed on July 6th, inspired limited opinion amongst French respondents. A month later, despite a rise in coronavirus cases in the country, we found that public opinion on Macron and the Government has remained consistent.
Indeed, a majority of respondents continue to believe that President Macron does not care about people like them (68%), does not tell the truth (61%), and is not a strong leader (51%).
Respondents are sharply divided with regards to whether Macron is someone who stands up for the interests of France. An equal proportion of French respondents believe Macron stands up for France (44%) than those who think he does not (44%). Responses followed broad partisan affiliation: 67% of those who voted for Macron in the second round of the Presidential Election believe the President sands up for the interests of France against just 24% of those who voted for Le Pen. Research conducted by us recently indicated that 45% of those who voted for Le Pen in the second round of the 2017 Presidential election disapproved of Macron’s visit to Beirut, suggesting that Le Pen voters do not view the President’s intervention as an example of Macron defending France’s interests.
Our results mirror our findings from July, when 44% of the public thought that the President stood up for the interests of his country and 42% thought that he did not.
The President is under increasing pressure to display effective economic management, given the economic crisis induced by the coronavirus pandemic. Just under half (49%) of respondents, however, think that Macron cannot get the economy going again – a similar figure than that in July (50%). Notably, only around a third (32%) of French respondents think that Macron can get the economy going again compared to 31% a month ago, which correlates with the levels of pessimism we have observed across Europe.
Scepticism over the President’s ability to restart the economy is broadly reflected in perceptions of France’s economic future. Indeed, we found that respondents are only slightly less pessimistic about the future of the economy in France at this stage (55% are pessimistic) than they were a month ago (when it was 57%).
Less than a fifth (18%) of the French public is optimistic about the future of the French economy, which is the same as in July. In August, it was reported by the Bank of France that economic activity ran at 7% below normal levels in July compared to 9% below normal levels in June. Overall, despite such mounting pessimism on the future of the French economy, Macron has interestingly not suffered from a decline in popularity rates.
Macron will, however, be reassured that the vast majority (65%) of respondents think that he is in good physical and mental health against just 17% who don’t.
Following the departure of former Prime Minister Edouard Philippe in July, we found that a significant plurality (40%) continue to neither approve nor disapprove of the new Government formed by Prime Minister Jean Castex, which emphasises that the public continues to have a limited opinion. By comparison, we found similar levels of indifference when asked about recently elected Labour leader Keir Starmer in our August poll in Great Britain.
Currently 23% of French respondents disapprove of the new Government, a slight decrease since July (27%). A quarter (25%) approve of Castex’s nominations at the Elysée.
Support for Castex has also remained stable. 27% of the French public has a positive opinion of the Prime Minister at this stage, compared to 25% in July. A plurality (37%) continue to have neither a positive nor negative view of the Prime Minister in August, compared to 39% in July. However, 24% now have a negative view of Castex, compared to 18% one month prior.