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Struggling Macron hires journalist as spokesman in PR overhaul

© FRANCE 24 screen grab | Bruno Roger-Petit, 54, will be in charge of "broadcasting the Élysée’s public message".

Text by FRANCE 24

Latest update : 2017-08-29

French President Emmanuel Macron completed a shake-up of his communications team on Tuesday by appointing prominent columnist Bruno Roger-Petit as his spokesman in an effort to stem an alarming hemorrhage in support.

An outspoken political commentator, Roger-Petit, 54, is expected to give the Élysée Palace’s media strategy a more combative edge amid a slide in poll ratings.

A statement from Macron’s office said the new spokesman would be tasked with “broadcasting the Élysée’s public message, using any means at his disposal, notably the presidency’s Twitter account”.

Minutes later, the prolific tweeter deleted his own account, which counted more than 70,000 followers.

Roger-Petit’s appointment follows the hiring of three new press attachés. It coincides with a radical rethinking of Macron’s communication strategy, which had been roundly criticised for summoning journalists to PR stunts and then dismissing their questions.

Stepping down from his pedestal, the self-styled “Jupiterian” president has promised to speak out on his agenda in an effort to convince a sceptical French public of the need to implement his planned reforms.

Setbacks at home

Macron has aggressively pushed himself onto the international stage since winning power in May, with high-profile visits by Russian leader Vladimir Putin and US President Donald Trump.

But he has suffered setbacks at home, including a damaging standoff with the military, a row over cuts to housing assistance, and a volte-face on plans to give his wife Brigitte official “First Lady” status – all of which were aggravated by communication gaffes.

Most French voters are now dissatisfied with Emmanuel Macron's performance, an Ifop poll showed on Sunday, with only 40 percent of people surveyed expressing approval of the president – down 14 points from July.

The Ifop poll showed the cumulative drop in Macron's popularity ratings since May was bigger than that of previous president François Hollande over the same period.

The collapse in popularity has weakened France’s youngest-ever president as he prepares to take on powerful unions over his controversial plans to deregulate the job market.

Date created : 2017-08-29

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