French ministers resign as Macron government plunges in polls
7 September 2018
After Ecology Minister Nicolas Hulot resigned last week, a second resignation by Sports Minister and former fencing champion Laura Flessel on Tuesday deepened the sense of crisis besetting French President Emmanuel Macron’s government. Flessel, whose budget Macron had cut from €530 to €348 million, said she will “continue her struggle by other means,” adding that she supported Macron and defended his “values and patriotism.” She was the second minister to resign even before Macron’s planned reshuffle of his cabinet.
Afterwards, the Macron government announced Hulot’s replacement by François de Rugy, the speaker of the National Assembly and former Green, who joined Macron before his election. Swimming champion Roxanna Maracineanu will replace Flessel.
The government also announced Tuesday night, after 10 days of hesitations, that it would introduce on January 1, 2019 tax withholding by private corporations. The decision, which provoked protests from hundreds of thousands of small businesses, was announced after the main French business federation, the Medef, abandoned its opposition.
The government seems adrift, and Macron overtaken by events. The press reported his remarks, at a school visit in Laval, that being president “is not really a job.” He added that “some days are easy and some are not.” The pro-Macron daily Le Monde wrote in an editorial that “every element of optimism that there existed in the message of Macron’s candidacy” has been undermined.
Disastrous polls last month had already underscored his government’s isolation from the population. An Elabe poll showed that only 16 percent of Frenchmen think his policies help the…