Emmanuel Macron has said that he wants to govern like the Roman god Jupiter, staying above the fray of everyday government issues. But less than three months into the French president’s time in office, his poll numbers are proving just how mortal he is. U.K.-based pollster YouGov reported a seven-point drop in the young leader’s approval rating, which fell from 43 to 36 percent over the month of July. French pollster Ifop observed a similar decline over the same period, noting that: “Apart from Jacques Chirac in July 1995, a newly elected president has never seen his popularity rate falling as quickly during the summer after the election.”
The popularity decline is a stark shift from June, when both Macron and his prime minister, Édouard Philippe, saw their approval ratings rise from 62 to 64 percent and 55 to 64 percent, respectively. But their level of popularity isn’t entirely outside the norm. Former President François Hollande enjoyed 56 percent approval at the same stage of his presidency; his predecessor Nicolas Sarkozy’s was higher, standing at 66 percent.
What’s perhaps most unusual is just how long Macron’s popularity did last. His presidency benefited from multiple boosts early on, including high-profile meetings with foreign leaders such as President Trump (they both engaged in a now-infamous handshake that Macron later admitted was meant to show that he would not make concessions) and Russia’s Vladimir Putin (during which Macron openly accused Russian media of being “agents of influence and propaganda”). Though such meetings raised Macron’s diplomatic profile (France was ranked the world’s top soft power in an annual survey, overtaking both the U.S. and Britain), they did little to quell concerns at home. Ifop political scientist Jérôme Fourquet said the fanfare surrounding Trump and Putin’s visits was met with ire by the French public, with whom neither leader is popular. But he also attributed Macron’s popularity decline to his plans to overhaul the country’s labor code, as well as to his proposed 850 million euro cut to this year’s defense budget—a move that led to the resignation of General Pierre de Villiers, France’s military chief.