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7 Feb, 2019 21:18

5 times Macron gave other leaders advice, and he now boasts an approval rating of… under 30%

5 times Macron gave other leaders advice, and he now boasts an approval rating of… under 30%

French President Emmanuel Macron is not shy about dishing out advice to his international counterparts but, with an approval rating at home hovering in the late 20s, is he really the person to be doling out instructions to others?

No matter the international crisis, Macron has been there to impart his wisdom, giving guidance and schooling to other world leaders on their domestic problems. When it comes to criticisms directed at him, however, it appears Macron is less receptive.

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This week, after French anti-government Yellow Vest protesters met with top Italian officials who criticized his leadership (admittedly in undiplomatic terms), Macron instantly recalled France’s ambassador from Rome, the critiques having gotten under his skin.

Here’s a look at six times Macron was the one dispensing unsolicited advice.

1. Venezuela’s Maduro is ‘illegitimate’

Macron has been quick to denounce Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro as “illegitimate” and to throw his support behind opposition leader Juan Guaido.

As we’ve seen, though, expressions of doubt about his own legitimacy are shot down by Macron’s government as “outrageous” – despite the French president commanding a domestic approval rating of around 30 percent. In fact, his approval rating dipped as low as 18 percent in early December.

2. Lectures on ‘human rights’ in Egypt

On a recent visit to Cairo, Macron warned his Egyptian counterpart Abdel Fattah el-Sisi to do more to protect “human rights” and “individual dignity.” Meanwhile, back in France, anti-government protesters were being violently beaten on the streets, in scenes which Macron surely would have condemned had they taken place anywhere else.

It looks as though his lecture on human rights was all talk, anyway, considering that France still serves as Egypts top supplier of military and security equipment.

3. Wading into Japanese legal matters

Macron also chided Japan for the “too long and too hard” detention of Carlos Ghosn, the former Nissan chairman and French citizen who was arrested there in November for allegedly underreporting his income and transferring personal losses to the company. If the tables were turned, it’s likely Macron would regard similar comments about decisions of the French justice system as foreign meddling.

Macron also confidently suggested a replacement for Ghosn in comments that irked Japan’s Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga, who told reporters that governments shouldn’t be getting involved.

4. ‘Timely’ decision to mark Armenian Genocide

In a move that angered Turkey, Macron on Wednesday declared April 24 a day for the commemoration in France of the Armenian genocide, saying that France was a country that “knows how to look history in the face.” While the commemoration is not shocking in itself, given that many countries, including Russia, recognize the Armenian Genocide (which Turkey disputes), Ankara accused Macron of exploiting the issue for political gain.

Macron happened to be “afflicted by political problems in his own country and is trying to save the day by turning historical events into a political matter,” Turkish Presidential Spokesman Ibrahim Kalin noted.

5. ‘Arrogant’ advice fest in Africa

Macron also faced major criticism on a trip to Africa last year, during which he advised Algeria to stop focusing on its colonial past and mocked Burkina Faso’s president over the country’s energy problems – comments which his former presidential rival criticized as “arrogant” and “bordering on racism.”

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On the same trip, Macron told a student that she should “applaud” French soldiers, said the continent’s problems were “civilizational”  – and told African women that they have too many children.

Back at home, the Yellow Vest protesters have frequently accused Macron of being “arrogant” and out of touch – and, if his record with other world leaders is anything to go by, it seems they could be correct.

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