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Macron’s popularity drops post handling of Covid-19 crisis: Report

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Emmanuel Macron’s popularity rate fell 4 percentage points from a month earlier, with 37% people saying they are satisfied with the president, according to an IFOP poll for French newspaper Journal du Dimanche.

Macron has faced criticism for a comparatively slow rollout of the coronavirus vaccine and his overall handling of the pandemic. Paris and other areas in France entered a new lockdown Saturday, which some say should have been implemented earlier to put the brake on the epidemic. The French president has vowed to postpone new restrictions for as long as possible and called a lockdown a last resort.

The government is also feeling the heat after requiring that French people must fill out a form to exit their home. The document was amended Saturday, after criticisms that it was too complex.

The next presidential elections are scheduled for April 2022, and current polls show far-right candidate Marine Le Pen as Macron’s chief rival. France also has regional elections coming up in June, although the government has warned they will only happen if the health context allows it.

In an interview with JDD, government spokesman Gabriel Attal sought to dispel criticism that Macron made a “bet” on the health of French people by not adding restrictive measures earlier.

“Some people want a permanent lockdown. We want to get there with as few restrictions as possible,” Attal said, adding that restrictions could be lifted as soon as mid-April thanks to vaccines.

In France, around 9% of the population has received at least one shot of vaccine, and 3.6% got both injections. That’s a fraction of the pace in the UK where more than half of all adults have received a first shot.

Still, the popularity of Macron, who a year ago said France was “at war” with the virus, is still higher than his predecessors, Socialist Francois Hollande and right-wing Nicolas Sarkozy, at the same point in their mandates, according to the pollster.

Ifop polled 1,911 people online and by phone in mid-March, and based the poll results on quotas that ensure the sample is a representation of the voting population in terms of age, gender, socio-professional situation and location. Given the size of the sample, the margin of error is close to 2%.

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