Emmanuel Macron prays to restore confidence in politicians. - Gonzalo Fuentes / AP / SIPA

  • The executive is regularly criticized for its management of the coronavirus.
  • The government pays in particular for the erratic communications of some of its members on the wearing of masks or tests.
  • Could the crisis increase French people's distrust of politics?

Since the start of the crisis, the executive has called for national unity. But the government remains regularly criticized for its management of the coronavirus. The executive multiplies the media interventions to try to eradicate the distrust of a part of the French. But while the popularity ratings of Emmanuel Macron and Edouard Philippe are increasing, confidence in the government to deal with the epidemic has fallen in most recent polls.

"There is a block effect behind the executive, classic during crises, but that does not prevent criticism of certain decisions taken, said Frédéric Dabi, deputy director general of Ifop. Traditionally, distrust of politicians is built on two criticisms: the lack of results and the feeling of deception ”. 73% of French people believe that the government has hidden certain information, according to the latest survey by the institute on April 2, against 45% in late January. "It is not conspiratorial, but some have the feeling that the government is sailing on sight, that the discourse on the epidemic fluctuates, resumes the pollster. Certain paradoxical injunctions have rooted a feeling of deception for French people today who are overinformed ”.

From municipal to mask

Frédéric Dabi evokes the wearing of masks, screening, or erratic communications from certain members of the government, such as the call to go to work in the fields of the Minister of Agriculture in the middle of confinement. On social networks, the videos of these sometimes contradictory statements are widely relayed and question. Why did former Minister of Health Agnès Buzyn affirm on January 24 that "the risk of importation from Wuhan [was] almost zero"? Why was the first municipal round kept only two days before the start of general containment? Why are the authorities encouraging the wearing of a generalized mask today after having advised against it for a long time?

“The government has no choice but to listen to the scientific word. But it is evolving at high speed, so it's hard to be one step ahead. Who knew, from January, that we would be in such a crisis? Who knows today how things will develop? Asks Erwan Balanant. The deputy MoDem of Morbihan reminds in passing that many doctors and other scientists were themselves mistaken about the extent of the epidemic. "The government will not be able to hide behind the opinion of scientific experts, because for the French, politicians consult, but they are the ones who make the decisions", nuances Frédéric Dabi.

A “structural” distrust

"There have been some blunders or blunders from the government on the masks or the tests, which forced us to rectify the situation, but no one can blame them for having made the choice of transparency. This is not always easy in crisis communication ”, underlines for his part Jean-Louis Touraine, deputy of Lyon. The elected LREM, also a doctor, however fears an increased distrust at the end of the crisis. “National unity will be maintained at first, but we will not escape from a much more severe phase. The crisis will leave its mark and will force us to make deep changes ”.

Historian Jean Garrigues also expects criticism of the opposition's handling of the virus, with a view to 2022. But remains cautious about a more general impact on public speaking. “The climate of mistrust vis-à-vis policies is more structural than the simple management of this health crisis. It is based mainly on the disappointments vis-à-vis the policies carried out for thirty or forty years concerning mass unemployment and social inequalities, which we have seen resurface with the "yellow vests" ".


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Coronavirus: After the hiccups, the executive wants to regain control

  • Executive
  • epidemic
  • Coronavirus
  • Virus
  • Government