Last week the French president enjoyed celebrity visits from Rihanna and Bono. But as political reality bites, his ratings have begun to drop

A young leader marches to office promising sweeping change and buoyed by hopes that he will introduce a new style of politics to replace a rejected establishment. He seems to walk on water and to be in touch with his times as he injects fresh life into international gatherings and invites pop stars to the official residence. Tony Blair 1997 or Emmanuel Macron 2017; Cool Britannia at Downing Street or, as we saw last week, Rihanna and Bono at the Élysée Palace to discuss world education and poverty.

But if it took half a dozen years for the Blair halo to lose its lustre, the French president is already facing negative comments that he is a bit too good to be true, that he is proving too big for his boots and that his promised new start for France will run aground on the familiar problems that stymied his predecessors. Undeterred, however, by the criticism and falling poll numbers, Macron forged ahead last week with initiatives ranging from nationalising the country’s biggest shipbuilder, STX France, to presiding at a meeting where Libya’s two main rival leaders agreed to call a ceasefire and hold elections, as his wife Brigitte bounded down the steps of the palace to greet Rihanna.

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