Macron’s Approval Matches Record Low a Week Before Voting Starts

(Bloomberg) -- French President Emmanuel Macron’s approval rating fell six points to match a historic low on Friday, with just over a week before voting starts in the two-round legislative election.

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Separately, support for the far-right National Rally party of Marine Le Pen rose to 38%, up two points from June 10, according to a separate Ifop-Fiducial poll for Sud Radio. The left-wing New Popular Front had 29% backing, while Macron’s Renaissance-led group remained in third at 22%.

Macron dissolved the National Assembly earlier this month and called a snap legislative vote after his group was trounced in European Parliament elections. The first round of the elections will be held on June 30, with the second round slated for July 7.

“My central case is really that we are going to end up with a hung parliament — we are going to have three blocks within it and none of them really wants to work with each other,” Marta Lorimer, a politics lecturer at Cardiff University, told Bloomberg Television. “This is unprecedented territory in French politics, so we really don’t know what is going to happen.”

The Ifop poll of 1,500 adults was carried out on June 18 and 19. The margin of error was 1.1 to 2.5 points. The question asked by the poll was about who respondents wanted to win rather than for whom they planned to vote.

Private-sector activity in France unexpectedly slowed in June, with S&P Global’s Purchasing Managers’ Index falling to 48.2 from 48.9 — even further below the 50 threshold that signals growth. The election has spooked businesses, which are fretting about the rising chance of a radical change in government.

The French business community has criticized the economic programs of the left- and right-wing groups. A study by the Institut Montaigne think tank said the campaign promises by the three competing political groups contesting the elections would each cost more than €10 billion ($10.7 billion) per year for the spending-power portions alone.

“We’re faced with programs that essentially only have new spending, that don’t propose financing for the measures, though they are electorally attractive,” said Lisa Thomas-Darbois, lead author of the report.

The decision to call a snap election triggered turmoil in the markets the following week, when France’s CAC 40 Index fell the most since in over two years and wiped out $258 billion in market capitalization. The losses erased all of the benchmark’s gains for 2024, after the index scaled record highs only a month ago.

Adding to the bad news, the European Union admonished France earlier this week for breaking the bloc’s deficit and debt rules, triggering a process that can lead to onerous fines.

A separate poll released Friday showed Macron’s approval rating fell six points to 26%, matching it’s low for the survey series done by BVA Xsight for RTL. Macron’s popularity had last reached this level in April 2023 and before that in late 2018.

The French government has tried to seize on the economic worries around the National Rally or the left-wing alliance coming to power. Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire warned that France would be plunged into a debt crisis similar to one sparked in the UK two years ago if Le Pen were to win.

And during a press conference on Thursday, Prime Minister Gabriel Attal pointed to a warning issued earlier this week by another French business lobby — Afep — which represents companies such as LVMH and TotalEnergies SE.

“When you have the association of the biggest French companies, which hardly ever speaks out, warning about the far right and far left, you have to take this warning seriously,” he said.

--With assistance from Guy Johnson and Caroline Connan.

(Updates with comment from politics expert in fourth paragraph.)

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