French President Emmanuel Macron has dismissed opponents’ criticisms that he is a ‘president of the rich’ and urged his countrymen to take a more positive attitude towards success.
The 39-year-old sought to reassure left-wing voters in his first live TV interview since taking office in May.
In his first months in power, Macron has defied street protests to loosen France’s labour laws, moved to scrap the wealth tax and cut housing aid.
His sometimes forthright style has forced him to fend off accusations that he holds the working class in contempt, but Macron said he was a leader who would “keep saying things as
Macron angered unions last week with comments he made during a visit to a car parts factory, saying workers protesting over job losses should look for work at a nearby plant rather than
“kicking up a bloody mess”.
He said that reforms to overhaul France’s unemployment insurance and professional training systems, which will be discussed in the next few weeks, would help the most in need
while encouraging social mobility and merit.
Macron, whose popularity has slumped since his election, said the aim of scrapping the wealth tax was to help to retain talent in France and encourage the wealthy to invest.
But the move has prompted opponents to label the former investment banker ‘president of the rich’.
In the more than hour-long interview at the Elysee palace that focused on his domestic agenda, Macron also said his economic reforms would start bearing fruit within two years.
During the campaign, Macron promised to lower France’s stubbornly high unemployment rate to 7 percent by the end of his mandate from near double digits.
On the international front, he said that despite disagreements with U.S. President Donald Trump over Iran and climate change, he would continue to work with the billionaire.
“I constantly talk to the American president, because it’s my duty,” he said. “It’s the right way to do it because he is the head of the top power so it’s necessary to anchor him to this partnership and multilateralism.”