Gerard Larcher, president of the French Senate
© Adrien Fillon/NurPhoto via Getty ImagesGerard Larcher, president of the French Senate
Gerard Larcher believes the French president is failing to tackle key domestic issues

The leader of the French Senate has openly criticized Emmanuel Macron's leadership, claiming the president is out of touch with reality and the daily concerns of the population.

In an interview with La Tribune newspaper on Sunday, Gerard Larcher was asked to assess Macron's track record, almost seven years into his presidency.

"It's disappointing. I have the impression that we don't perceive the same country, that we don't feel same France," the politician responded, listing several issues to "illustrate Emmanuel Macron's denial of reality."

He noted a significant decline in school teaching quality, citing the latest PISA (Programme for International Student Assessment) study which ranked French teenagers 26th in science and mathematics, and 29th in reading comprehension.

"It's not just a story of money and resources. There is a problem of transmission of values, respect for the authority of the teacher, preservation of secularism, particularly among the public," Larcher argued.

He also pointed to healthcare, saying it remains "a very big concern for the French" with the hospital system becoming increasingly "bureaucratized."

"Although we are the country with the highest rate of public spending, our health system has deteriorated profoundly," the Senate president noted, adding that with hospitals staffed with 34% non-medical administrative personnel, millions of French people are forced to seek private medical care every year.

Larcher also pointed to a lack of "state authority," with an escalation of street violence, urban unrest, drug trafficking, defiance of law enforcement, and an overall deterioration of the country's crime landscape.

"All of this creates distrust. I'm not saying the government hasn't tried. I'm not saying it's simple. But this prohibits any exercise of self-satisfaction," the Senate leader concluded.

Emmanuel Macron first came to power in 2017, defeating right-wing candidate Marine Le Pen. He was re-elected in 2022, promising "a new method of governance," arguing that the French are "tired of reforms which come from above."

His tenure has seen frequent waves of public unrest, notably the 2023 protests against pension reforms that raised the retirement age from 62 to 64.