After months of Yellow Vest protests that have sapped the popularity and patience of French President Emmanuel Macron (shown), the embattled head of state is considering taking his problems to the people in a referendum. Such a referendum would address the concerns of French citizens about unfair taxation and other key issues.
At a recent townhall meeting with young people in a southern suburb of Paris, Macron hinted that he might consider a referendum in order to address people’s concerns about the French government. “At some point, I might end up having to ask our citizens about this or that,” he stated.
Post-war French leader Charles de Gaulle, the architect of the current French Constitution, included referendums as a form of direct democracy, to give citizens a say on controversial issues. But French governments have been hesitant to use referendums, having done so only five times, the last time in 2005 when citizens rejected a new European Constitution — a crushing blow for then-president Jacques Chirac.
One need only look across the English Channel as to why referendums are rarely used by governments. The Brexit Referendum has caused political chaos in the U.K.
“You go for double or quits to try to get out of a crisis,” observed Jean-Phillipe Derosier, a law professor and constitutional expert, “at the risk of being plunged into an even deeper crisis.”
But Macron may be in a tough enough spot that such a risk is warranted. His approval rating has dropped as low as 25 percent in recent weeks, as a growing number of French citizens have come to see Macron — who came to power as a populist — as just another globalist elite who doesn’t care about his citizens.