Macron crisis: French voters brand climate change referendum ‘a political manoeuvre’

Emmanuel Macron’s wife Brigitte addresses French 2022 elections

The French President’s approval ratings have plummeted in recent months over his handling of the coronavirus pandemic and more recently the shambolic roll-out of his country’s Covid-19 vaccination programme. And he has done little to win support with the planned climate referendum with a survey showing almost two-thirds of the population were unlikely to take part.

Referendums always seem suspicious in the eyes of public opinion

Paul Cébille

Mr Macron announced last month that Parliament would review a draft amendment by referendum of article 1 of the Constitution to include the objective of climate defence.

But the idea of a referendum on this subject has failed to capture the public’s imagination.

An Ifop poll published in Le Parisien newspaper showed 64 percent of French people would not vote.

It found 61 percent believe the measure is an “important symbol” but 64 percent see it as “a political manoeuvre” by the President.

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Ifop opinion analyst Paul Cébille said: “Referendums always seem suspicious in the eyes of public opinion.

“The notoriety of the referendum is low and this shows a lack of communication from the government.

“Not only the French do not have a precise idea of the sense of this vote, but they generally have the feeling that the protection of the environment is not debated in society.

“Around 60 percent of the French have heard of this referendum proposal put forward by the Head of State, but only 25 percent know what it is.”

Mr Macron has been under fire from left-wing factions of his centrist party for failing to do enough to combat global warming despite pledges to spend billions of euros to speed up moves to a greener economy.

France’s Green Party has gained momentum over the past two years, drubbing Mr Macron’s ruling party in regional elections early this summer.

Macron loyalists worry the Greens could erode his base of support on the political left in the next year’s presidential vote.

Last November, France’s highest administrative court gave Mr Macron’s government three months to show it was enacting climate policies that will ensure it meets its commitments on reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

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Mr Macron established the Citizens’ Climate Council in response to anti-government “yellow vest” protests that sprang up in late 2018.

Some within the council have already denounced it as a “talking shop”.

(Additional reporting by Maria Ortega)

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