23:22 GMT22 February 2020
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    French First Lady Brigitte Macron has appeared in her first TV interview since her husband took office in 2017. Pressed with the question about his consistently low approval rating in different polls, she has acknowledged that there is a problem with the perception of her husband.

    Brigitte Macron told the French broadcaster TF1 that her husband, President Emmanuel Macron, can seem out-of-touch when she was repeatedly asked about his arrogant image among poll respondents. The French first lady defended her 42-year-old spouse, saying his self-confidence can be explained by his deep knowledge and intelligence. However, she admitted that the perception of him being arrogant is baseless.

    “I don’t say this doesn’t exist because there is a perception. If it’s one that is held by several people, there is something there of course… We have discussed it but I haven’t been able to determine what causes it… Possibly, there is something in his manner that people do not like”, she said.

    She also revealed that sometimes she has to correct her husband when he makes a faux pas.

    "Sometimes, spontaneous phrases affect our image, and then, it is too late”, she added.

    Macron vs Protests

    Macron has of late made a number of unpopular changes to taxes, welfare, and labour laws, which, as he remarked on Tuesday, now appear to be beginning to pay off, as unemployment rates are on the decline. He has dealt with massive yellow vest protests across France for more than a year. Recent strikes were prompted by the government’s plans to reform the country’s pension system, replacing France's 42 separate pension regimes with a universal points-based system that would make the official retirement age of 62 obligatory for all workers and envisages it being raised up to 64 years.

    However, following weeks of protests, the country’s authorities backed down and Prime Minister Édouard Philippe offered unions and employers scrapping plans to raise the retirement age if certain conditions are met. Some unions are yet to respond, however.

    During the height of the yellow vest protests in December 2018, his approval ratings hit a low of 23%. However, it slowly climbed up to 32% in July 2019, according to a monthly Ifop survey for Journal du Dimanche. The polls in November showed a slump, but rose at the beginning of the year, according to an Elabe study, conducted for the French outlets Les Echos and Radio Classique, reaching 32% again.

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    Tags:
    Yellow Vest protests, French President, Brigitte Macron, Emmanuel Macron, Paris, France
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