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French President Emmanuel Macron lays out vision of 'stronger' France amid far-right challenge

French President Emmanuel Macron Tuesday, Jan. 16, 2024 at the Elysee Palace in Paris.
French President Emmanuel Macron Tuesday, Jan. 16, 2024 at the Elysee Palace in Paris. Copyright Aurelien Morissard/Copyright 2024 The AP. All rights reserved.
Copyright Aurelien Morissard/Copyright 2024 The AP. All rights reserved.
By Euronews with AP
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The centrist president advocated a variety of policies, including tax cuts for the middle classes and children learning the national anthem.

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Emmanuel Macron has promised a "stronger France" during a two-hour press conference, as the far-right National Rally grows in the polls.

The French president made a point of showing his leadership was firmly focused on law and order, migration and education. 

Macron's series of reforms would start with an economic bill meant to boost growth and tax cuts for the middle classes. 

But he also advocated regulating children's screen time, uniforms in public schools and learning the national anthem at a young age. 

The 46-year-old centrist promised “audacity, action, efficiency” in the last three years of his presidency, already dogged by controversy. 

'France to stay France'

Macron's speech was seen by observers as part of an attempt to strengthen his legacy and challenge the dominance of Marine Le Pen’s far-right National Rally, ahead of European elections. 

He is seeking to move on from last year's controversial pension changes and more recent immigration laws, which some claimed showed Macron was bowing to the far-right. 

Macron denounced the National Rally as “the party of the lies” in front of reporters.  

He warned about the “danger zone” as voters across Europe were increasingly choosing the far-right. 

“Basically, the National Rally has become the party of easy anger,” Macron added. “Let’s not get used to it.”

Macron vowed that his plans were for "France to stay France."

A journalist takes a photograph of French President Emmanuel Macron Tuesday, Jan. 16, 2024 at the Elysee Palace in Paris.
A journalist takes a photograph of French President Emmanuel Macron Tuesday, Jan. 16, 2024 at the Elysee Palace in Paris.Aurelien Morissard/Copyright 2024 The AP. All rights reserved.

We must tackle issues that “make people vote for them,” he said, including fighting unemployment and better-controlling immigration.

Low-middle-income voters were the targets of his speech which also promised to boost businesses by reducing red tape. 

He also detailed how he would preserve France’s struggling health system and accelerate changes at schools. He advocated for uniforms in public schools, learning the national anthem at a young age and expanding a two-week training period in high schools to promote French values and encourage youth to give back to the community.

With no majority in parliament, Macron suggested many of the changes could be implemented without passing new laws.

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France on the world stage

“I still have three years and a half in office,” Macron said, describing an ambition to both change the daily life of the French and tackle global crises.

He promised to make France “stronger” to face global crises, announcing plans to deliver more long-range cruise missiles as well as bombs to Ukraine. 

Macron also proposed a joint initiative with Qatar to mediate a deal between Israel and Hamas to allow the delivery of medications to around 45 of the more than 100 Israeli hostages held captive in Gaza.

France's leader also suggested that he’d find ways to work with Donald Trump in the event that he wins another presidency.

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