Macron Paradox Shows How Hard It Is to Please the French Voters

(Bloomberg) -- Another French paradox. 

Most people claim to be dissatisfied with Emmanuel Macron after his first six months as president, according to a BVA poll for La Tribune. And a majority also say they believe he is dynamic, competent and able to take the right decisions.

The youngest French leader since Napoleon has launched a series of reforms to deliver an economic “revolution” after years of sub-par growth while stamping his authority on the international stage in meetings with U.S. President Donald Trump and Russia’s Vladimir Putin.

It’s not just charismatic politicians that are a turnoff for the French, they are famously grumpy despite enjoying some of the world’s best food and wine and a country that draws visitors from around the world.

“France is a paradise populated by people who believe they are in hell,” the writer Sylvain Tesson said in a radio interview earlier this year.

Macron’s government is at work modernizing labor laws, unemployment benefits, jobs training and pensions systems, changes that have brought workers onto the streets in droves in the past. But this time his opponents are struggling for traction, with as few as 8,000 joining union demonstrations in Paris Thursday.

Despite the lack of protests, 57 percent of the respondents in the BVA poll claimed they were “unhappy” with Macron’s work and 47 percent believe he was too “free-market.” The Paris-based institute said a higher tax rate hitting mainly retirees and lower social housing benefits hitting poorest are the measures that have struck them most.

The survey shows that 81 percent say he’s dynamic, 56 percent say he shows ability to make the right decisions and 57 percent say he’s competent.

Macron, who’s turning 40 next month, was elected in May against nationalist candidate Marine Le Pen with 66 percent of the votes. He has repeatedly said his score and election is a mandate to run a transformation policy for France.

Though his poll numbers have dipped since election victory, his approval rating after half-a-year in the job is higher than his predecessor and former boss Francois Hollande. The Socialist had the worst score in French history after six months as president with 61 percent of people unhappy.

©2017 Bloomberg L.P.