Most French think Macron's tax policies favor the rich: poll

PARIS (Reuters) - A large majority of people in France believe President Emmanuel Macron’s tax policies favor the rich, a poll showed on Thursday, days after he angered unions with disparaging remarks about protesters.

French President Emmanuel Macron accompanies French employer's body MEDEF union leader Pierre Gattaz after a meeting at the Elysee Palace in Paris, France, October 12, 2017. REUTERS/Pascal Rossignol

Eighty-two percent of respondents in the Odoxa poll thought Macron’s tax policies - including a scaling-back of a long-standing wealth tax - catered mainly to the richest.

Three in four said the policy helped heads of large businesses and fewer than one in three believed Macron’s tax stance was favorable for low-income workers and pensioners.

This month, Macron made good on a pledge to scale back the wealth tax, long a tool for social justice for left-wingers but blamed by others for driving millionaires abroad.

He is scrapping the tax on all but property holdings, a move that critics said was a get-out for owners of yachts and private jets, while reducing housing subsidies for the poor.

The 39-year-old leader, who argues that the left- and right-wing politics are an anachronism, is struggling to shake off the elitist image of his years as a Rothschild banker.

He has argued that the economy, which has suffered from chronic unemployment and sluggish growth for years, needs entrepreneurship, foreign investment and rewards for risk-taking.

But he was criticized after complaining about “lazy” elements of society and saying that people who clashed with police during a protest at a car parts plant should seek work elsewhere.

Macron’s approval ratings have tumbled since his election in May, dragged down by labor reforms, budget cuts, and the decrease in housing subsidies.

An Ifop poll in late September showed some respite with a “dissatisfaction” rating of 53 percent down from 57 percent in August.

An August Harris Interactive poll showed 46 percent trusted Macron’s political leadership, 13 points off his mid-June high - making him the most unpopular French president in the first 100 days in office in decades.

Macron hopes to weather further protests as his government unfurls more reforms aimed at making hiring and firing easier.

Some unions say that will undermine labor protections.

On Thursday, protesters put on a show of force near a meeting of human resources executives on the western edge of Paris. Police arrested 41 people at the protest in which several executives’ cars were torched.

(This refiled version of the story fixes typo “Eighty-two” in second paragraph).

Reporting by Sudip Kar-Gupta and Brian Love; Editing by Michel Rose and Robin Pomeroy