Macron tries to claw back popularity with second Versailles ‘state of the nation’ address
Emmanuel Macron sought to restore his slumping popularity and fend off taunts that he is the “president of the rich” with a robust defence of his pro-business reforms on Monday.
Mr Macron chose the gilded opulence of the Palace of Versailles to call a special session of both houses of parliament, at a cost of £250,000, to say he was “humbled” by his first year in power.
He added that he was determined to push on with ambitious reforms despite losing the backing of many working class and rural voters. “To share the cake, there has to be a cake,” he said.
Previous high taxes in France had only benefited wealth managers in “Switzerland, Luxembourg and the Cayman Islands,” he said.
But he was booed when he said: “Nothing will change for pensioners.”
The event was boycotted by far-Left and some centre-Right MPs. The 40-year-old president, France’s youngest ever, still retains his core support base of middle-class urbanites.
But his popularity has plummetted amid criticism for building a swimming pool at a presidential residence on the Riviera, replacing the Elysée Palace crockery with an expensive new set, and telling off a teenager who addressed him as “Manu” instead of “Monsieur le Président”.
In a glaring contrast to the optimism that surrounded his election last year, a poll last week indicated that nearly three-quarters of the French believe his policies are unfair, 65 per cent think they are inefficient, and 55 percent see his his set-piece speech as unnecessary.
Profile | Emmanuel Macron
Fabien di Filippo, 31, deputy head of the conservative opposition Republican party, said: “I had better things to do in my constituency than take part in this masquerade. Macron is in difficulty and this is just an attempt to recover.”
Eric Ciotti, a prominent Republican MP, described the 90-minute address as “content-light”.
He said: “There was virtually no concrete announcement.”
Mr Macron said France was responding to Brexit by boosting its security forces and international clout within a strengthened EU.
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