In 1st major do campaign, Macron unveils his vision for the 2nd term | Politics
PARIS (AP) — French President Emmanuel Macron on Thursday unveiled his proposals to boost the economy, tackle inequality and improve France’s responses to global crises if he wins a second term in elections next month.
Macron spoke at a press conference which is his first major campaign event – taking time from his focus on the war in Ukraine to provide details on his vision for the next five years.
He pledged to push forward a controversial pension reform that would ‘gradually’ raise the retirement age from 62 to 65, and suggested that people who start working at a young age could still retire earlier. 65 years.
To revive France’s growth, we must “invest more” and “work more”, he added, promising to achieve “full employment”. The unemployment rate recently reached 7.4%, compared to more than 10% when he took office.
Macron also promised to continue investing in the French army and to fight against inequalities in school and in access to health care, among other proposals.
Asked about his campaign motto, he said he wanted the French to be “stronger and happier all together”.
Even though he officially announced he was seeking a second term earlier this month, Macron has yet to hold any rallies. He has been criticized by other candidates for refusing to take part in any televised debate ahead of the first round of voting, scheduled for April 10.
In recent days, he has pushed for a ceasefire in Ukraine in phone calls with Russian President Vladimir Putin, and spoke almost daily with his Ukrainian counterpart Volodymyr Zelenskyy.
Last week he gathered EU leaders at the Palace of Versailles, west of Paris, to discuss sanctions against Russia. France holds the rotating presidency of the Council of the European Union, giving Macron a key role in coordinating the bloc of 27’s response. Next week he is expected to be seen alongside US President Joe Biden, at the NATO summit in Brussels.
Macron recently posted unusual photos of himself working nights and weekends at the Elysee Palace, looking tired and unshaven, in jeans and a hoodie.
If it’s part of a campaign strategy, it seems to be paying off, solidifying his position as the frontrunner in the race while making it difficult for other contenders to challenge him.
Pollster Bernard Sananes, president of the Elabe polling institute, said that “obviously the international situation reinforces his stature”.
“It gives the impression that Macron in 2017 was elected on a promise of (political) renewal and that Macron in 2022 wants to be elected on the promise (of having) experience,” he said in an interview with the French newspaper L’Opinion. Polls show that most French people, whether they intend to vote for him or not, consider him up to the task, he stressed.
Polls see Macron around 10 percentage points ahead of far-right candidate Marine Le Pen, putting them both in a position to reach the second round and replay the 2017 election. They show that in this case, we s generally expect the French president to win.
Another far-right candidate, Eric Zemmour, far-left figure Jean-Luc Mélenchon and conservative candidate Valérie Pécresse are among the other challengers.
Rivals have accused Macron of focusing on Ukraine to avoid domestic issues that could prove trickier for him.
Le Pen said Macron was “using the war in Ukraine to scare the French, because he thinks scaring can benefit him.”
“When there is a war, there is a reflex to be legitimist,” Pécresse said. “People think: there is a captain who is leading the operation… You shouldn’t be afraid to change captains on April 11,” she added.
Macron’s defenders argue that the situation in Ukraine involves key domestic issues that are fully debated in the campaign, such as energy and defense policies.
The political historian Jean Garrigues underlined the “unifying” impact around the head of state in a war situation.
“We see that Macron’s opponents do not have equivalent experience in the presidential office, or even as key ministers, and are de facto in a situation of inferiority,” he noted.
Pollsters said Macron’s biggest challenge as a frontrunner could be a low turnout, with supporters not turning up at polling stations because they thought he would win, while those angry against his policy would mobilize more.
Macron himself acknowledged the risk in a behind-the-scenes video posted on his campaign’s Youtube channel. “That’s what I’m going to say to the French, and also to my supporters: if they think it’s done, it’s because we’ve lost,” he said.