A new poll has revealed that six in 10 French citizens approve of U.S. President Donald Trump’s visit to the country after being invited by President Emmanuel Macron to attend the annual Bastille Day parade.
Mr. Trump’s was expected to court protests from far left activists in Paris, but a new study conducted by the Elabe Institute of 995 people over a two-day period shows the majority of the rest of the country approved of President Macron’s decision to invite the American president, French broadcaster BFMTV reports.
Of those polled, 59 per cent favoured the visit, with the greatest support coming from those who identify as right-wing. 69 per cent of supporters of former Republican presidential candidate François Fillon were in favour, and 67 per cent of anti-mass migration Front National leader Marine Le Pen agreed the invitation was a good move by Macron.
The support from Le Pen voters surprised the pollsters after she was only recently defeated in a bitter second round campaign by Macron in May.
The far left supporters of former presidential candidate Jean-Luc Mélenchon were predictably against the visit, but only by 56 per cent.
Age also played a role in the polling, with young people aged 18 to 24 being the most divided on the visit, although 52 per cent agreed with Macron’s invitation. Retirees and those over 65 expressed the strongest agreement, with 63 per cent in favour.
While the majority of French think the visit was a good idea, the most vocal voices have been those who oppose the visit and oppose the U.S. president. In the vicinity of the Place de la Republique, far left groups set up a “No Trump Zone” where protesters held signs, listened to music, and protested largely without incident.
The protest was a sharp contrast to the violent riots which took place near the Place de la Republique during the French presidential elections and the massive wave of left-wing extremist violence in Hamburg during the G20 summit, which led to almost 500 police officers being injured.
Macron’s invitation came as a surprise to many after he had slammed Trump for the U.S. departure from the Paris climate agreement in June.
Since winning the legislative elections in mid-June, Macron has presented a different perception of his presidency, calling himself a “Jupiterian” leader and claiming his thoughts are “too complex” for the press to understand.
Macron has also proposed new migrant policies, promising to increase the number of deportations of illegal immigrants in the near future. He also said that African nations, from where much of the current migrant flow to Italy originate, do not need more financial aid from Western countries but instead need to have fewer children, with their problems being “civilisational”.