I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: Emmanuel Macron, the current president of the French Republic, is a weird dude. Now, after just 18 months in power, he is also a very unpopular dude. The French media have been making much of the fact that Macron’s prime minister, Édouard Philippe, has been slightly more popular than the president in certain polls. But really, what we are seeing is an almost perfect parallel collapse in popularity of both personalities
That French presidents are unpopular is nothing new. However, there is a secular trend in them getting unpopular more and more quickly upon getting into office. True, Macron is not as unpopular after 18 months as was the hapless and squishy François Hollande, who could deliver on virtually none of his Socialist economic promises. However, Macron as collapsed in popularity more quickly than Nicolas Sarkozy did, who was a one-term president.
The English-speaking Macron said he wanted to turn France into a “start-up nation.” A bold ambition, but it’s worth remembering that 90% of start-ups go bankrupt.
I personally don’t understand the French electorate on these matters. Macron in particular did not promise anything other than to deliver more of the same policies, albeit with more youth and more vigor, as a frank globalist. Who, exactly, was excited at his election but is disappointed now? People with a short attention span or susceptibility to marketing gimmicks, I assume.
It is hard to talk about the French media without getting a bit conspiratorial, at least, I speak of “structural conspiracies.” Macron’s unabashed, “modernizing” globalism certainly corresponds to the id of the French media-corporate elites and to top 20% of the electorate, let us say, the talented fifth. He was able to break through the old French two-party system, annihilating the Socialist Party and sidelining the conservatives. The media certainly helped in this, preferring him to either the conservative François Fillon or the civic nationalist Marine Le Pen.
However, the media have to a certain extent turned on Macron, perhaps because he believes his “complex thoughts” cannot be grasped by journalists with their admittedly limited cognitive abilities.