Published On: Fri, Oct 4th, 2019

Macron dealt huge blow as over two-thirds of French people don’t trust him – Shock poll | World | News

Pension reforms by the young centrist’s predecessors sparked street protests and failed to close repeated deficits, which his government hopes to wipe out by 2025. More than two-thirds of French people “don’t trust” their president, Emmanuel Macron, a poll published on Thursday found. It comes as Mr Macron he embarks on the next, and likely most perilous, leg of his reform drive with an overhaul of the country’s convoluted pension system in a bid to plug a chronic deficit.

Only 29 percent of French people “trust” Mr Macron, the Kantar-One point poll for Le Figaro Magazine found, down three percentage points from September.

Sixty-seven percent of respondents, however, said they “don’t trust” their 41-year-old leader.

Mr Macron emerged relatively unscathed from the weekly “yellow vest” anti-government protests that all but fizzled out several months ago.

But he is aware of simmering public anger over his reform plans and determined to avoid further violence from erupting.

The yellow vest protests, which unleashed some of the worst urban unrest in decades, were triggered by anger over rising fuel taxes and living costs and also concerns that Mr Macron’s economic reforms are pro-rich and anti-poor.

The potentially explosive pension reform is looming large over his presidency, with Prime Minister Edouard Philippe telling uneasy unions last month that the government would listen to their concerns and negotiate in an effort to ease tensions.

The government hopes to hold a vote in parliament before next summer on the reform, which envisages merging France’s 42 different pension regimes into a single, more transparent points-based system.

But the scheme has been met with scepticism from critics.

The president of the Social Welfare Institute, Bruno Chrétien, described Mr Macron’s proposed system as pure folly.

Mr Chrétien told France’s Europe 1 radio on Thursday: “It’s crazy… [The French] need a system that is far more flexible.”

An Elabe survey published earlier in the day echoed Mr Chrétien’s concerns. The poll, conducted for the news channel BFMTV, found that 43 percent of French people are opposed to the introduction of a single, points-based pension scheme.

Only 32 percent of those interviewed said they approved of the government’s plan; while 24 percent said they were neither for nor against.

Mr Macron has also said he would prefer to focus on the duration of a person’s career rather than the age at which they retire, but critics say this could punish those who begin working in their mid-20s after long studies.

France’s biggest trade union, the pro-reform CFDT, has cautiously welcomed the government’s plans to overhaul the pension system to make it fairer, but more hardline unions like the far-left CGT are firmly against and have promised to put up a tough fight.

The government has promised to “take the time that is needed” to implement the hot-button reform, repeatedly insisting that “nothing is set in stone.”

Under current proposals, the new system would apply to workers born after 1963 and only take effect gradually from 2025.

Pension reforms by former conservative presidents Nicolas Sarkozy in 2010 and Jacques Chirac in 1995 set off street protests and failed to plug stubborn deficits, which the Macron government has pledged to wipe out by 2025.

The Kantar-One point poll of 1,000 people was carried out between September 26-30; while the Elabe poll of 1,002 people was carried out between October 1-2.

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