Macron’s Approval Drops Two Days Ahead of French Election

(Bloomberg) -- President Emmanuel Macron’s approval rating fell to the lowest level in three months, delivering a boost to Marine Le Pen’s far-right National Rally party just two days before voting starts in France’s legislative election.

Most Read from Bloomberg

Support for Macron dropped six points to 36%, the worst showing since March, according to a Toluna-Harris Interactive poll for LCI TV published on Friday.

Separate polls are putting National Rally on course to be the biggest group in the lower house of parliament, with Bloomberg’s poll of polls projecting it will get 36.2% support in Sunday’s vote. A left-wing alliance called the New Popular Front would get 28.3% while Macron’s centrist group would get 20.4%.

  • Sign up for the Paris Edition newsletter for special coverage throughout the French election.

Macron dissolved the National Assembly earlier this month and called a snap vote after his group was trounced in European Parliament elections, a decision that initially led to the worst bond rout since the sovereign debt crisis and wiped almost $200 billion off the value of stocks.

On Friday, France’s 10-year bond yield rose as much as six basis points to 3.33%, it’s highest level since November.

France’s two-round election makes seat predictions tricky. While polls have mostly indicated Le Pen’s group would fall short of the 289 seats lawmakers needed to form an absolute majority, a survey of 2,004 adults by Elabe published Friday estimated it would get 260-295.

Tensions are already emerging over who controls certain areas of policy after the election in the event National Rally finishes first, ushering in a power-sharing arrangement in government between two opposition parties. Macron and Le Pen have started exchanging barbs over who has the right to nominate officials to institutional positions in Brussels and who calls the shots on defense policy.

The challenges of this arrangement — called cohabitation in France — were put in the spotlight on Friday. After French officials said Macron was pushing to obtain another mandate in the European Commission for Thierry Breton, Le Pen told Europe 1 radio that was wishful thinking.

“Emmanuel Macron is projecting a victory he can’t achieve,” she said. “So there will be another government than the one we know, and it is the prime minister’s prerogative to appoint the European commissioner. It’s not the prerogative of the president.”

Another area where the constitution isn’t entirely clear is who handles defense. While the text says the president heads the army, and Le Pen has backed Macron’s military funding law for 2024-2030, a National Rally majority could weigh on more recent decisions to help Ukraine, including through budget negotiations.

Le Pen and party chief Jordan Bardella, who has said he would agree to be prime minister only after getting an absolute majority, have both said they support Ukraine in its fight against Russia. But contrary to Macron, they also said they would oppose sending troops and long-range weapons able to target deep strikes inside Russia.

After Le Pen said the title of “army chief” conferred to the president by the constitution was merely honorific, Macron’s prime minister, Gabriel Attal, insisted the president is responsible for defense and warned of the fallout from confusion over national security.

“Foreign powers are rubbing their hands, saying to themselves: ‘look, there’s going to be chaos at the top of the state and they won’t agree with each other,’” he told BFM TV on Friday.

(Updates with seat projections in the sixth paragraph.)

Most Read from Bloomberg Businessweek

©2024 Bloomberg L.P.