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DIJON, France – Emmanuel Macron had a brief word of support for Ukrainian protesters who had met him as he got out of his car in Dijon, but he quickly moved on.
The French President was in the eastern city to meet locals from a council estate in Fontaine d’Ouche to show he can listen to the public’s needs. Some were there to take selfies with the President, others to complain. Many said the past few years have been particularly tough.
“Put yourself in the shoes of an ordinary French family, it’s awful,” said a man who addressed Macron as he entertained locals on their way to a debate with charity workers and officials.
“It’s horrible to shop, to fill up the tank. I used to get decent pay, I could take vacations, save money. But that is no longer the case, I have become a poor worker.”
The encounter summed up the paradox of this presidential election. With less than two weeks before voters head to the polls on April 10 to cast their first-round votes, the war in Ukraine has eaten up much of the airtime, but voters are still mostly concerned with Jobs and the Cost of living, problems exacerbated by the Russian invasion. Macron likely faces a runoff on April 24 against far-right National Rally leader Marine Le Pen, who has consistently championed the cost of living.
Macron’s response on Monday was inflexible.
“I don’t have a magic answer, the rise in fixed costs is a tragedy for the middle class,” he told the man worried about rising costs. But he noted that his government had put billions of euros on the table to protect French citizens from further price spikes, particularly on their energy bills.
“If you took electricity, if we didn’t take action, not only would your bill have gone up like gas, it would have doubled,” Macron said.
In recent days, the president has been accused of withdrawing from the election campaign and using the war in Ukraine to avoid a head-to-head race with his opponents. Macron has led a diplomatic push, albeit unsuccessfully, to get Russia to halt its invasion of Ukraine, and last week he announced a humanitarian operation to evacuate the besieged Ukrainian city of Mariupol “in the coming days.” .
While his competitors went to the tree stump in an election campaign largely overshadowed by external events, Macron’s team pumped out photos from the Elysee of her unshaven husband squatting in his office wearing a French paratrooper sweatshirt. Critics were quick to point out that he was copying the look of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy and using the war to boost his chances of re-election.
In addition, he only officially declared his candidacy earlier this month and only recently unveiled his campaign platform. While other candidates have debated France’s future and met voters in local markets, Macron has held no rallies and rarely campaigned.
In spite of everything, Macron is the clear favorite, with polls suggesting he will win 28 percent of the vote in the first round, ahead of Le Pen’s 19 percent share. In a runoff, Macron would likely beat his far-right rival by 58 percent to 42 percent.
On the fringes of the President’s Dijon visit, François Patriat, senator from Macron’s La République en Marche party, defended the decision to focus on international issues and not participate in televised debates with rivals ahead of the first round of voting.
“Debating isn’t a battle with 10 other candidates in a TV studio,” Patriat said. “The real debate takes place between the candidate and the French people. He puts his suggestions on the table and they decide.”
return purchasing power
In Dijon, a traditional stronghold of the left, Macron met students on vocational courses and parents on welfare, and made a clear message: his medicine was bitter, but it was the right one to save France.
“For the first time since the 1970s We could win the fight for full employment,” he told officials and charity workers. France last year unemployment rate fell to 7.4 percent, the lowest level since 2008.
“This is possible for the first time in decades. And it’s good for purchasing power because those who don’t have a job struggle the most to make ends meet,” he said.
After a five-year tenure marred by the Yellow Jacket protest movement, the coronavirus pandemic and now the war in Ukraine, Macron is going back to basics to advocate for proposals to cut taxes, create wealth, invest heavily in the… Create jobs and increase income to advertise retirement age.
But his proposals risk appearing less generous than those of his opponents, both on the far left and far right. Far left Jean-Luc Mélenchon is offering to increase the minimum monthly wage to €1,400 if elected and Le Pen has promised to cut fuel taxes to help a wide range of French households.
And in Fontaine d’Ouche many say such proposals are tempting.
“Mélenchon offers something completely different,” says Lunes, a truck driver. “He wants to help people who are struggling and can’t find work. I’ve been in that situation, it’s a real struggle.”
But he added that he has since found a job and says Macron’s management of the recent crises hasn’t been bad.
“I’m still thinking,” he said. “The first round is in two weeks, then I’ll decide.”
https://www.politico.eu/article/france-emmanuel-macron-campaign-trail-french-elections/?utm_source=RSS_Feed&utm_medium=RSS&utm_campaign=RSS_Syndication Macron is (finally) going into the election campaign – POLITICO