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World Cup 2018: Emmanuel Macron hopes for approval rating boost in wake of France victory

The unpopular French president could be in for a boost

Jon Stone
Europe Correspondent
Monday 16 July 2018 17:20 BST
The French president celebrates from his World Cup box
The French president celebrates from his World Cup box (Reuters)

France’s unpopular president will be hoping for a poll boost from his record low popularity following his country’s football World Cup triumph at the weekend.

Emmanuel Macron stayed conspicuously in the limelight throughout France’s knock-out games in Russia and was pictured celebrating wildly on the touch line as the final result became clear.

Mr Macron’s poll ratings, low from the very start of his term in office, have been falling steadily in the 14 months he has been in power.

Branded the “president of the rich” by left-wingers, his approval rating has reached just 40 per cent after masterminding a series of often unpopular economic reforms.

In 1998, when France last won the competition, Jacques Chirac’s approval rating jumped 18 points overnight on the back of the result, according to pollster Ifop.

“It’s far from a given that what happened in 1998 will be reproduced in the same way now,” Gaël Sliman, a pollster at the Odoxa firm, said.

“One could very well see five, six, 10 points of popularity gains for the executive.

Mr Macron celebrates in the rain (Reuters) (REUTERS)

“It could also have a meaningful impact on French economic morale, people’s confidence in the future, their optimism in general, including when it comes to consumer behaviour.”

Mr Macron’s unpopularity is partly a result of the manner in which he was elected: he narrowly won a four-way split field in the first round with less than a quarter of the first-preference vote – 24 per cent.

In the second round run-off, however, he won convincingly against the divisive Front National candidate Marine Le Pen as other voters lent him their votes at the ballot box – netting him 66 per cent.

France beat runners up Croatia with a convincing 4-2 in the final in Moscow on Sunday. The country added the trophy to their World Cup win of 1998 and their two European championship victories in 1984 and 2000.

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