Trump's Popularity Rises in France as Macron's Favorability Plummets


If the penultimate letter of the alphabet appears in the spelling of the day of the week, there’s likely to be some ginned-up outrage in the media involving Donald Trump.

Now that he’s in France to mark the 100th anniversary of Armistice Day, the latest scandale concernant le président involves Trump’s tweet that French President Emmanuel Macron’s call for a European army is “very insulting.”

“President Macron of France has just suggested that Europe build its own military in order to protect itself from the U.S., China and Russia. Very insulting, but perhaps Europe should first pay its fair share of NATO, which the U.S. subsidizes greatly!” Trump tweeted.

According to CNBC, things are actually kind of OK on that end, with both leaders saying they wanted a strong NATO and that France ought to pay its fair share. Macron said his European military was consistent with this goal and Trump seemed more or less willing to let this slide.

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You might expect that Donald Trump isn’t beloved among the Citroën-driving masses of Gaul, given that these are people who mostly adore Jean-Paul Sartre, François Mitterand and Jerry Lewis.

And while you’re kind of right, you’re probably not as correct as you think you are. Perhaps more ominously (at least for Macron), the American president seems to be getting a lot more popular over there while the French president is getting a lot less popular.

“While President Trump is still viewed unfavorably by the majority of French people, the popularity of the American leader has steadily gained by around 16 percent per year since he took office in January of 2017,” Breitbart reported on Saturday, citing figures from the French-language newspaper Le Figaro.

Are you surprised Trump is getting more popular in France?

“Initially, the U.S. leader’s unfavorability among French sat at 81 percent in November of 2017, but this has been reduced to 65 percent according to a new poll conducted by Odoxa and Dentsu Consulting for Le Figaro and broadcaster FranceInfo.”

“At this rate (-16 points per year), the head of the White House will no longer be unpopular in France before the end of his term,” a pollster said.

Meanwhile, Macron’s popularity hovers at around 21 percent, which the French might call pas très bien.

Part of the issue — both in terms of Trump’s unpopularity falling and Macron’s rising — is that France is yet another country where there seems to be a sharp divide between populists and the establishment, especially when it comes to immigration.

Trump seems to draw from the same base as Marine Le Pen, the former presidential candidate who’s called for reduced immigration and a French exit from the European Union.

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In a vacuum, the two actually have relatively divergent positions (Le Pen’s love of state-sponsored welfare programs and associated government largesse, for instance, would be an instant deal-breaker for the MAGA-hat crowd).

However, Le Pen does draw her support from among France’s working class, whereas Macron — a former investment banker — is seen as the candidate of the elites. There’s also the fact that France has been among the nations hardest hit in the migrant crisis, which means immigration is something on voters’ minds. While not the most laissez-faire of European leaders when it comes to stemming externalities from mass illegal migration, Macron probably isn’t going to be hanging out with Joe Arpaio anytime soon.

Le Pen is currently ahead of Macron in polls, according to Breitbart — which is an interesting development but relatively worthless when you consider the last presidential election was in 2017 and French presidential terms run five years.

The point is, however, that Le Pen doesn’t get most of her strength from the Davos crowd. The same could be said for Trump: “While only 51 percent of workers view Trump unfavorably, the figures among elites and the highly educated are starkly different, with an overwhelming 84 percent having an unfavorable opinion,” Breitbart reported.

As for Macron, it’s also worth noting that his poll numbers aren’t low merely because the French are suddenly rejecting arrant elitism and EU immigration quotas or anything of that nature.

For instance, Macron’s private bodyguard allegedly assaulted protesters during May Day celebrations, creating a scandal that’s dragged on for some months.

The French president was also hit with the surprise resignation of his popular environment minister back in September, according to Reuters.

During the same month, France’s The Local reported Macron committed a faux pas énorme when “he told an unemployed gardener that he should look for a job in a restaurant or on a building site and implied he was not searching hard enough.”

Of course, the biggest factor driving these poll numbers might be that France’s unemployment remains high and growth remains low. In America — as Donald Trump will remind you, believe you me — the case is quite the opposite.

So, yes, we can go over and over the Trump “very insulting” tweet and what it means for U.S.-French relations. The answer is, probably nothing.

However, the real story may be that Donald Trump could soon be more popular in Gaul than their own president. Can 67.12 million Frenchmen be wrong? You make the call.

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C. Douglas Golden is a writer who splits his time between the United States and Southeast Asia. Specializing in political commentary and world affairs, he's written for Conservative Tribune and The Western Journal since 2014.
C. Douglas Golden is a writer who splits his time between the United States and Southeast Asia. Specializing in political commentary and world affairs, he's written for Conservative Tribune and The Western Journal since 2014. Aside from politics, he enjoys spending time with his wife, literature (especially British comic novels and modern Japanese lit), indie rock, coffee, Formula One and football (of both American and world varieties).
Morristown, New Jersey
Catholic University of America
Languages Spoken
English, Spanish
Topics of Expertise
American Politics, World Politics, Culture