Published:  12:11 AM, 14 November 2017

Macron unpopular but in control

Macron unpopular but in control Emmanuel Macron with his wife Brigitte Macron.-AFP

In his first six months in power, French President Emmanuel Macron has chalked up one reform after another in a whirlwind that has nevertheless seen his poll numbers plummet. The former investment banker's stunning rise cast aside France's traditional left and right, creating a solid centrist front for his new Republic on the Move (REM) party.

In short order, the 39-year-old has scored three major legislative triumphs, beginning with a law to clean up politics, followed by flagship reforms to France's complex labor code and a controversial anti-terror law.

The labor reforms sparked strikes and street protests, but they paled in comparison with those that have thwarted similar attempts by his predecessors. But the young leader's zeal for reforms and the use of executive decrees to overhaul the labor code, seen as a strong-arm tactic has come with a cost.

The man who won two-thirds of the vote in May has an approval rating of just 32 percent in a YouGov poll out November 2. But insiders says his poll standings do not worry him.

He has a very long-term outlook and won't give up, one close associate said. Macron faces a tricky balancing act as he seeks to lower taxes while also slashing the deficit -- something he sees as key to earning credibility with European leaders as he pushes for ambitious EU reforms.

-AFP, Paris

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