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Economy

Macron advisers say he's too right-wing

media French President Emmanuel Macron REUTERS/Philippe Wojazer/Pool

Three economists who inspired Emmanuel Macron's election manifesto last year have complained that his government's policies have proved too right-wing and called for a change of course. The appeal echoes complaints from some former Socialists who defected to Macron's Republic on the Move (REM).

The economists - Philippe Aghion, Philippe Martin and Jean Pisani-Ferry - complain the government has acquired an "image of an administration that is indifferent to social issues" in a confidential note to the president leaked to Le Monde newspaper.

A growing number of French people, "including some of the most fervent supporters in 2017", are disillusioned, they warn and "many of those who supported the candidate are expressing the fear of a reorientation to the right".

Macron's record was judged negative by 55 percent of respondents in an opinion poll that marked his first year in office last month and his critics see him as a "president for the rich".

While welcoming such measures as the reduction of class sizes in schools in deprived areas, they say the whole package so far "does not measure up to the initial ambitions".

Tax cuts for wealthy

Echoing one complaint of ex-Socialist REM MPs, they point out that the most important ministries have gone to defectors from the mainstream-right Republicans.

Prime Minister Edouard Philippe, Economy Minister Bruno Le Maire and Budget Minister Gérard Darmanin are all former members of the party.

"We have to liberalise but we must also protect," the economists say, suggesting that some of Macron's manifesto commitments - bonus-malus short-term contracts, employee representation on company boards - should be revived and that tax breaks for business should be overhauled.

Although the government has introduced controversial cuts for top-paying taxpayers, it has yet to reduce aid to businesses.

In May Darmanin promised to cut five billion euros in business subsidies by 2022.

The statement comes as divisions begin to appear in REM ranks, notably over the planned immigration law.

Last week Phlippe appealed for more "solidarity" from the party's MPs and called on them to act collectively.

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