Macron's popularity falls further in September: polls

By Dominique Vidalon
President Emmanuel Macron holds a news conference after the informal meeting of European Union leaders in Salzburg, Austria, September 20, 2018. REUTERS/Lisi Niesner

By Dominique Vidalon

PARIS (Reuters) - French President Emmanuel Macron's popularity fell further in September, adding to troubles afflicting his administration since the departure of high-profile ministers and a summer scandal over his bodyguard, two polls showed on Sunday.

Only 29 percent of those surveyed in September said they were satisfied with Macron, down from 34 percent last month and 39 percent two months ago, according to the Ifop poll for Le Journal du Dimanche.

A separate poll published on Sunday by OpinionWay for LCI showed that only 28 percent of the respondents in September were satisfied with Macron's action, down from 35 percent in July.

The former investment banker won the 2017 election with 66.1 percent of the vote on a reformist project to modernize the euro zone's second largest power. But many voters ranging from conservative pensioners to low-income workers complain that Macron's policies mostly benefit companies and the rich.

The president was criticized last week for telling an unemployed man he could easily get a job if he tried.

Environment Minister Francois de Rugy told BFM-TV: "I take these polls as a spur. They remind us that we must act.

"Each time you want change, some people will oppose it. So you have two solutions - either you stop in hopes of being popular again or continue while listening to the French people."

Macron was damaged this month by the surprise resignation of his environment minister, Nicolas Hulot, a popular former activist and TV presenter. On Sept. 18, Gerard Collomb, the interior minister and one of Macron's closest allies, said he would run for election as mayor of Lyon in 2020.

Commenting on the polls, Francois Bayrou, leader of centrist party MoDem and a key Macron ally, told a meeting of his own party: "The French do not just need to be told of successive reforms, they need the whole picture. You have to know the steps you take but also to know where you are going,"

The Ifop poll was conducted on Sept. 14-22 with a sample of 1,964 people while the OpinionWay poll was carried out on Sept. 19-20 with a sample of 1,061 people.

(Reporting by Dominique Vidalon; Additional reporting by Caroline Pailliez; Editing by Mark Heinrich and Edmund Blair)