Macron's Popularity Sinks as Paris Prepares for More Violence

(Bloomberg) -- Emmanuel Macron’s popularity is sinking as the Yellow Vests prepared to mount their next demonstration.

The French president’s approval rating slipped 4 percentage points in a month to 23 percent in an Elabe survey for Les Echos released Thursday. It’s now lower than his Socialist predecessor Francois Hollande’s was at the same point in his presidency.

“There’s a battle being fought between Macron and public opinion,” Bernard Sananes, head of the Paris-based pollster said in an interview with the newspaper. Respondents said “he doesn’t listen to the people, doesn’t know the people and doesn’t understand them.”

The president and the French authorities are bracing for more protests this Saturday. The Elysee presidential palace warned Thursday there’s a risk of very violent action and Prime Minister Edouard Philippe told the Senate that he will deploy exceptional security measures.

Meanwhile, Macron’s retreat over the fuel-tax hikes that sparked the protest -- he announced late Wednesday he canceled them for 2019 -- has yet to take the sting out of the protests, or weaken their public support. An Opinionway poll Thursday showed 79 percent of voters think Macron’s climbdown came too late and most doubt he can complete his plans to reform pensions, the civil service and the healthcare system.

A group of Yellow Vests participants have asked to meet with the president on Friday.

Key Developments

  • Yellow Vests demanded to meet with Macron. "Insurrection is at the gates of France and we don’t want to have any deaths this weekend,” member Benjamin Cauchy told Le Figaro.
  • Philippe said France will deploy 65,000 police across the country as part of his exceptional measure to deal with any protests. “We will fight against hatred and violence,” he said.
  • CGT union called on workers at EDF, Engie and other energy companies to strike for 48 hours from Dec. 13.
  • Police arrest 146 people after an incident at a high school, Agence France-Presse reports.
  • Socialist, communist and far-left groups in Parliament threaten to file a no-confidence vote against the government Monday, though they have just 62 lawmakers out of 577 in the National Assembly.
  • Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire says French CEOs are ready to give workers a one-off benefit and that would not be taxed.

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