May 20, 2017 / 10:03 PM / 3 years ago

Macron's popularity similar to predecessors as mandate kicks off: poll

PARIS (Reuters) - The popularity of France’s new president is around the same as his immediate predecessors when they took office, an Ifop poll showed on Sunday, in contrast to a survey that found Emmanuel Macron had the lowest confidence ratings in more than 20 years.

French President Emmanuel Macron visits French troops in Africa's Sahel region in Gao, northern Mali, 19 May 2017. REUTERS/Christophe Petit Tesson/Pool

Some 62 percent of the people polled said they were satisfied with Macron, just above his socialist predecessor Francois Hollande’s 61 percent rating in May 2012 but below conservative Nicolas Sarkozy in 2007 who stood at 65 percent, the Ifop poll for the Journal du Dimanche showed.

By contrast, Jacques Chirac’s rating was 51 percent when re-elected in 2002 and 59 percent when he was first elected in 1995.

An Elabe poll on Thursday found only 45 percent of voters trusted centrist Macron’s ability to tackle France’s problems, and 36 percent trusted his newly appointed prime minister, Edouard Philippe, a conservative.

In Sunday’s Ifop poll, Philippe’s approval ratings, at 55 percent, were also around the average of previous prime ministers at the beginning of their mandates.

The Ifop poll of 973 people was conducted on May 19-20.

Macron, who was elected on May 7, designated Philippe, a conservative, to head a government gathering Socialists, Centrists, Republicans and political newcomers, smashing the traditional left-right divide.

Philippe has said he would campaign to help secure a majority for Macron’s party Republic on the Move (REM) during next month’s parliamentary election and implement his plans, which include corporate tax cuts, labor market reforms, and a 50 billion euro investment plan coupled with public spending savings.

In an interview with the Journal du Dimanche, Philippe repeated that he wanted to go move quickly on the labor reform but said he would first hold talks with unions.

“We cannot wait two years to finish this task. Emmanuel Macron has heard French people’s anger. He also knows the urgency to transform the country,” he said.

Reporting by Sybille de La Hamaide; Editing by Alison Williams

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