Ahead of his re-election, Macron seeks to repair the French economy


The centrist president’s ability to rise to the challenge will be important for his political future and for France – which is among the worst-affected countries in the world with the fourth highest number of reported COVID-19 cases and the eighth highest number of more than 106,000 dead.

Although he has not officially declared his candidacy, Macron made comments suggesting that he intended to be re-elected. And he’s pushed for recent legislation on issues close to the hearts of potential rivals on the right and left, from security to climate change.

Polls suggest Macron, who became the youngest president in French history four years ago, has a good chance of winning the presidency again in 2022 despite his government’s often-criticized handling of the pandemic and challenges earlier in his policies, from activists protesting against what they see. as a social and economic injustice to the unions angry at the pension reforms.

The coronavirus reopening strategy that Macron unveiled this month calls for the lifting of most restrictions on public life on June 30, by which time half of the French population is expected to have received at least one vaccine. With up to 3 million people in France getting vaccinated each week, the government plans to allow outdoor spaces of restaurants and cafes, as well as museums and non-essential stores, to resume operations on May 19.

In an interview with French media, Macron said he would travel to regions of France over the summer “to feel the pulse of the country” and engage with people in a mass consultation aimed at ” turn the page of this moment in the life of the nation ”.

“No individual destiny is worth it without a collective project,” he said, giving the latest clue to a possible re-election.

For now, all polls show Macron and Marine Le Pen, the far-right leader he defeated in a runoff in the 2017 presidential election, reach the second round again next year. . Polls also predict that Macron would beat National Rally leader Le Pen again, but by a smaller margin.

Macron, 43, a former Minister of the Economy under his predecessor, Socialist President François Hollande, characterized his policies as transcending traditional left-right divides. He was elected on a promise to make the French economy more competitive while preserving the country’s social protection system.

Macron’s government includes figures previously belonging to the conservative Les Républicains party, including its prime minister and the finance and interior ministers.

French political expert Luc Rouban, senior researcher at the National Center for Scientific Research. said the president’s immediate goal “is to show that he is still able to continue with the implementation of his project, which has more or less been halted by the health crisis.”

Macron’s recent priorities demonstrate that he is also trying to attract voters from the moderate right and the moderate left, the same who helped him win the first time around, Rouban said.

Macron “undermines the domain of the Republicans by strengthening the laws on security, by taking measures to protect the French against terrorism, by strengthening security also in urban areas, by increasing the police and judicial personnel”, he added. he declares.

At the same time, Macron must show he is tackling inequalities, economic mobility and other social justice issues that are important to the French left wing, Rouban said.

Last month, the president decided to abolish the elite French doctoral school of future leaders, the National School of Administration. He said his alma mater would be replaced by a more egalitarian institution.

In the interview with French newspapers, Macron also praised the country’s benefits for low-income workers, who since 2019 have received up to an additional 100 euros ($ 120) per month.

Macron’s public image appears to have partially recovered from the beating it took at the height of the ‘yellow vests’ movement, which began in late 2018 to oppose a fuel tax and turned into a weekly anti-government protest targeting alleged social and economic injustices. at the time, critics angry at Macron eliminating a wealth tax called him “president of the rich.”

But Macron’s popularity in recent months has remained relatively stable, with an approval rating of between 30% and 46%, higher than that of his predecessors Hollande and Nicolas Sarkozy after four years in power.

Frédéric Dabi, deputy director general of the IFOP voting body, said Macron’s support seemed “very solid”. Polls show his policies satisfy most of his supporters in 2017 and 30% to 50% of voters in traditional right and left parties.

During the virus crisis, Macron applied an “all it takes” strategy based on state intervention to save jobs and businesses, including a massive short-time working program and on-call days off. ‘subsidized children. The government also approved a two-year, 100 billion euro ($ 120 billion) bailout to revive the economy.

Macron promised there would be no tax hike to pay off the debt, which soared to 115.7% of gross domestic product last year.

Despite strong union opposition over planned changes to the pension system and unemployment benefits, he pledged to continue reforming “until the last quarter of an hour” of his five-year term, which expires in May 2022.

Recent polls show no strong rivals emerging so far from the major French parties amid divisions on both right and left. But at this point, the field remains wide open.

As Macron himself proved in 2017, when he went from being a wild card presidential candidate in less than four months, anything could happen next year.

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