Macron at 100 Days: New French President Faces Busy Autumn

A large chunk of French President Emmanuel Macron’s first 100 days in office came at a time when many Europeans were on holiday break. Here, Philippe Brugere-Trelat, Franklin Mutual Series Executive Vice President and Portfolio Manager, Franklin Mutual European Fund, says it’s unfair to judge Macron on such a short timeframe. He asserts that the first true test for his reform agenda will come in autumn, and says that France and Germany seem to be working even more closely to keep the European Union together in the wake of last year’s UK Brexit vote.

Sworn in on May 14, French President Emmanuel Macron vowed to loosen labor laws and cut both taxes and spending.

August 22 marked his 100th day in office, when many Europeans were returning from summer vacations.

It’s hard to gauge the president’s success on such a short timeframe, but Macron’s party’s rounding victory in June’s French parliamentary elections stands out as a highlight. In my view, nobody expected his Republic on the Move party, known as LREM, and its Democratic Movement allies to secure such a strong majority with 350 out of 577 seats.

Although polls have shown that Macron’s approval ratings have fallen since the election, I don’t see this drop as cause for concern. The ebbs and flows of popular polls are natural, in my opinion, following the giant wave of hope that swept Macron into office. That hope is now meeting the cold light of reality.

In my view, Macron has now the means to carry out the keystones of his reform agenda. Since the June elections, Macron and his government have been hard at work putting together proposals to reform the labor market, tighten the French budget and promote European Union (EU) cohesiveness.

I think it’s premature to judge Macron’s effectiveness before he presents his plan in September.

That said, I think Macron’s upcoming negotiations with France’s trade unions will be a true litmus test for his presidency. Unions in France have enjoyed extensive political power for a very long time, and are likely to kick off protests in September that will gain widespread media coverage and may unsettle some French voters.