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Macron concedes he was 'not involved enough' on pension reforms

One year after his re-election, Emmanuel Macron answers questions from readers of Le Parisien, admitting that perhaps he "should have done more".
One year after his re-election, Emmanuel Macron answers questions from readers of Le Parisien, admitting that perhaps he "should have done more". Copyright DANIEL COLE / AFP
Copyright DANIEL COLE / AFP
By Gael Camba
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The French president made the comments in a new interview to mark one year since his re-election.

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One year after his re-election, Emmanuel Macron is facing unprecedented public resistance to his pension reforms, which raise the retirement age from 62 to 64. 

In an interview to mark his one-year re-election to the Élysee Palace, he responds to questions from readers of Le Parisien-Aujourd'hui en France newspaper, and tries to justify some of his most controversial policy moves.

First, Macron conceded that he should have been more "involved" to defend the pension reforms, and announced he would now "re-engage in the public debate". 

"Perhaps the mistake was to not be present enough to give consistency and to carry this reform myself," said the French president, who however affirms that his Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne has his "confidence".

One hundred days to relaunch his mandate

As he starts the second year of his second term as president of France, Macron is giving himself another 100 days to kick-start his presidency.

"I have to re-engage in the public debate because some things are unclear. So I'm doing it everywhere", said Emmanuel Macron, who has given himself a hundred days to revive a stalled mandate and has begun to go back to meeting ordinary French voters to talk about why they're discontented.

Thibault Camus / AP
Booed during a walkabout in Alsace, followed everywhere he is announced by demonstrators and their pots and pans concerts, he rejects the trials of "contempt".Thibault Camus / AP

Recently, Macron was booed during a walkabout in the eastern Alsace region, followed everywhere he goes by demonstrators banging their pots and pans, but he rejected the accusations of "contempt" and said he accepted the protest.

But he also added that he wanted to "fight against violence and incivility", calling for the "sanctioning" of those who had cut off the power supply at the places where he was travelling.

"It's going to be hard until the end of the summer".

Macron predicted that the French would still have a hard time on the inflation front, without announcing any immediate measures to deal with it. Over the last year, food prices have continued to rise, up by 15.9% year-on-year in March. 

"I'll be honest, food prices are going to be tough until the end of the summer," the president warned. According to him, "the key is that work pays better", but this will depend "on employers and social dialogue".

"I have heard nothing on ecology"

"On Monday night, you spoke for more than 13 minutes, I heard nothing on ecology..." lamented Jean-Michel, a "reader-interviewer" who got the chance to ask questions during this interview with Le Parisien, referring to his televised address.

"Ah yes, I spoke about ecology!" the president then defended himself, only for the readers interviewing him in the room to reply that it only lasted "30 seconds".

Ludovic Marin / AFP
Emmanuel Macron responds to people opposed to the pension reform in Sélestat in the Alsace region. A reform which has earned him growing animosity in recent weeks.Ludovic Marin / AFP

"We are speeding up on offshore wind power, on nuclear power, on the decarbonisation of our industry", promises Emmanuel Macron. "We are investing massively in rail: €100 billion, it's historic!"

The president also plans to launch a "major ecological restoration project" for schools to fight against poor insulation. 

These promises ring hollow for some who still remember the "failure" of the Citizens' Climate Convention which was created to identify 150 measures in order to achieve at least a 40% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2030. Emmanuel Macron announced that 146 of the 150 proposals would be implemented.

In reality, only 22% of the proposals were taken up in their entirety. The others, the vast majority of the proposals, were "truncated or watered down. Their scope has been reduced or their deadlines extended", according to FranceInfo's Vrai ou Fake verification unit.

"Those who are nothing"

Emmanuel Macron said he regretted his phrase "A train station is a place where you meet people who succeed and people who are nothing." "It was incomprehensible as I said it. A real mistake," the president admits.

However, he once again assumed that one had to "cross the street to find a job", considering this statement still valid.

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"When I tell a young man who is a horticulturist, with whom I speak for ten minutes and who tells me that he is ready to look for a job in the restaurant business, that one crosses the street to find a job, it is true", he explained to Le Parisien. 

He had already reiterated this phrase during a television interview on 14 July 2022 "It's even truer today", he said at the time.

Ludovic Marin / AP
"Marine Le Pen will come to power if we don't know how to respond to the country's challenges and if we install a habit of lying or of denying reality", says Emmanuel MacronLudovic Marin / AP

"Marine Le Pen on the steps of the Elysée?"

Emmanuel Macron believes that "Marine Le Pen" -- from the far right Rassemblement National -- "will come [to power] if we don't know how to respond to the country's challenges and if we install a habit of lying or denying reality."

The head of state assures that he has "no lessons to receive" on this subject because he "beat her twice". He argued that "we will never win" against the far right "in the game of the most populist and demagogic", but thanks to the "work on reindustrialisation, ecology, order and the fight for our public services, we will have people who will return to the republican field."

Additional sources • Le Parisien

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