The French President Emmanuel Macron addressed Monday both houses of parliament at the opulent Versailles Palace where he presented his reform agenda for the next four years, as nearly 900 lawmakers boycotted the speech, criticizing it as an exercise of a monarch.
Referring to the speech, the left leader Jean-Luc Melenchon told Europe 1 radio that "we are convoked to admire the splendor of Macron the First." The French president focused on his program for economic and social reforms but failed to go into details.
The speech comes a day before the lawmakers will be initiating a debate on Macron's call for constitutional changes geared towards streamlining the legislative process, including shrinking the number of seats in the National Assembly and the Senate by a third.
"Tomorrow we're going to get a long speech on 'my life, my work' that will be all about him," Christian Jacob of the Republicans told French television Sunday.
Often called the "president of the rich," Macron has seen his popularity plummet over the past few months. Per Odoxa survey published Thursday, only 29 percent of respondents thought his policies were "fair," while 75 percent declared him "dynamic," only 45 percent considered him "likeable."
Macron came under severe criticism after reports surfaced that his wife Brigitte ordering a lavish new set of porcelain tableware for the Élysée Palace which cost nearly US$600,000, along with a new swimming pool to be built at the president’s summer residence.
In April, some 300,000 people in France including rail workers, civil servants, and students demonstrated against what they say is President Emmanuel Macron's privatization of the public sector in neoliberal reforms.