The bloom is off Macron
French President Emmanuel Macron is doing exactly what he said he’d do—and the French despise him for it, said Alain Auffray. Macron, who exploded French politics last year by winning the presidency without the backing of either of the two major parties, campaigned on a platform of radical economic reform. He promised to ease labor restrictions to make the job market more flexible, and to increase workers’ purchasing power with a cut to payroll taxes. Fast-forward eight months, and nobody notices the few extra coins in their pocket, while everyone is outraged “when the price of a baguette goes up.” Macron has especially irritated pensioners, who didn’t benefit from the payroll tax cut, by hiking a tax they do pay, used to fund public health care and family aid. A centrist who pleases nobody, he has lost support equally from those on the Left and the Right, and his approval rating now stands at 41 percent, down five points since December. The good news for Macron is that his rivals fare no better. The Socialists have collapsed; the right-wing Republicans have a historically unpopular new leader in Laurent Wauquiez; and the far-right National Front has slumped since party leader Marine Le Pen lost the presidential runoff to Macron. For now, the French have no choice but to stay the course and see how Macron’s policies play out.