Emmanuel Macron’s poll ratings are plunging just a little more than three months since he stormed to the presidency promising a new beginning. In fact, at about 40 percent, they’re nearly as bad as Donald Trump’s.
Reports of a 26,000-euro makeup bill haven’t helped. Neither has his bid to overhaul France’s notoriously complex labor laws, which his predecessor, Francois Hollande, says may end up asking workers for “useless sacrifices.”
Macron has responded with a European diplomatic blitz and a pledge to start addressing voters directly. And he offered a glimpse of another Macron this week when he dropped his sometimes prim presidential style and adopted a campaign-like tone to insist France can be reformed.
Ultimately, he still has time -- and a huge parliamentary majority -- on his side. But next week's launch of his controversial labor plans may well show whether the Macron presidency is just suffering from teething problems or something worse.
Debt cap versus the wall | President Trump is spoiling for a fight with Congress to fund his proposed Mexican border wall, but the looming deadline to raise the debt ceiling may stymie his efforts. If he doesn’t come away with at least a partial victory, it may fracture his strongest base of political support. Meanwhile, the upcoming debt-cap battle has rattled investors.
Tax kickoff | Trump plans to drum up support for a tax overhaul while Republican lawmakers hash out the details, kicking off with a visit to Missouri next week. He’s planning to focus on broad themes including middle-class cuts, simplifying the code and helping businesses encourage job creation, rather than championing his own specific proposal.
Boris Johnson’s Brexit about-face | Boris Johnson gave his blessing to a Brexit transition and said the British are willing to meet their financial obligations. This from a man who famously told the EU it should "go whistle" if it thought the U.K. would pay for a big divorce settlement. With talks resuming in Brussels next week, the Brexit hardliners in Theresa May’s government seem to have been brought to heel.
Samsung scion convicted | Jay Y. Lee, heir to the Samsung empire that makes a fifth of the world’s smartphones, was convicted of bribery and sentenced to five years in prison today. The verdict caps a yearlong corruption saga that also prompted a president’s downfall and could boost proposals to weaken ties between the government and the sprawling conglomerates known as chaebol.
Another Thai leader flees | Former Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra reportedly fled the country before a verdict -- now postponed -- that could have slapped her with a decade-long prison term. In exile, she joins her brother Thaksin Shinawatra, whose allies have won the past five elections only to see the military and courts kick them out. The junta, which has been in power since 2014, wants to erase his influence before a planned vote next year.
Mideast peace bid stalls | Hopes are fading that Trump can reignite the Middle East peace process after his son-in-law, Jared Kushner, met with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas. As Jonathan Ferziger reports, the Palestinians seem particularly pessimistic, with Abbas complaining that Kushner won’t publicly support a two-state solution or a freeze in West Bank settlement construction.
And finally... Barnaby Joyce, Australia's deputy prime minister, has had a rough time of late. His parliamentary seat is at risk after it emerged that he's a New Zealand national by descent, a violation of Australia’s constitutional ban on dual-citizen lawmakers. Cheeky memes are going viral online. Labor opponents bleated at him earlier this month in a reference to New Zealand’s huge sheep industry. And today one of the country's main newspapers reported that he's in the running for New Zealander of the Year.