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2022 FRENCH PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION

‘My responsibility’: Macron vows response to anger of far-right voters

Newly re-elected Emmanuel Macron said in his victory speech on Sunday night that it was his responsibility to find a response to the anger of those French voters who backed the far-right - or who didn't vote at all.

'My responsibility': Macron vows response to anger of far-right voters
French President and La Republique en Marche (LREM) party candidate for re-election Emmanuel Macron and his wife Brigitte Macron celebrate after his victory in France's presidential election, at the Champ de Mars in Paris, on April 24, 2022. (Photo by Ludovic MARIN / AFP)

Macron spoke on a stage at the Eiffel Tower to jubilant supporters not long after projected results declared him the winner of the 2022 presidential election.

The victory – by a projected score of roughly 58 percent to 42 percent – means Macron is the first French president in 20 years to be re-elected.

As in 2017 Macron walked on stage to the sound of Ode to Joy by Beethoven, which is the EU anthem. But he wasn’t in a triumphalist mood given the record score of the far-right candidate Marine Le Pen.

“After five years of transformation and of both difficult and happy times, a majority of you have placed your trust in me to lead our republic for the five years to come,” he told the victory rally in front of the Eiffel Tower.

Supporters react after the victory of French President and La Republique en Marche (LREM) party candidate for re-election Emmanuel Macron in France’s presidential election, at the Champ de Mars, in Paris, on April 24, 2022. (Photo by Ludovic MARIN / AFP)

“I know a lot of our compatriots voted for me because they supported my ideas but also to block the path to power of the far right. I want to thank them and tell them I’m aware of the responsibility their vote puts on me in the years to come,” he said.

On those who voted for Le Pen, Macron said: “I’m no longer a candidate from one camp but the president of all. 

“An answer must be found to the anger and disagreements that led many of our compatriots to vote for the far right. It will be my responsibility and that of those around me,” he said.

Macron also pledged a “renewed method” to govern France, adding that this “new era” would not be one of “continuity with the last term which is now ending”.

French President and La Republique en Marche (LREM) party candidate for re-election Emmanuel Macron celebrates after his victory in France’s presidential election, at the Champ de Mars in Paris, on April 24, 2022. (Photo by Thomas COEX / AFP)

“That is my responsibility and the responsibility of those around me,” said Macron, gesturing to the crowd not to boo when he mentioned far-right voters.

He also acknowledged that he must find an answer as well for all those who didn’t cast a ballot.

“Today you chose an ambitious humanist project for the independence of our country and for Europe, ambitious in its ecological and social values, a project founded on work and creativity,” said Macron.

French President and La Republique en Marche (LREM) party candidate for re-election Emmanuel Macron celebrates after his victory in France’s presidential election, at the Champ de Mars in Paris, on April 24, 2022. (Photo by bERTRAND GUAY / AFP)

“I want to push forward with this project in the years to come, taking into account opposition and with respect to any differences.”

The 44-year-old, who came to power as France’s youngest ever president, secured victory promising more pro-business and welfare reforms but with a “new method” that is expected to be less top-down.

He had billed Sunday’s vote as a chance to “save the Republic” from the clutches of far-right rival Marine Le Pen, but will now face a challenge of uniting a highly fractured country.

Unveiling the essence of his programme for a second term in March, Macron offered a blunt message for a country famed for its lifestyle and long holidays, saying: “We have to work more.”

Macron’s wife Brigitte, who accompanied him to the rally, said: “France is the most beautiful country in the world, the problem is that we don’t always know it.

“I feel an immense emotion – and such a great honour that I can only hope to be worthy of. I have every confidence in my husband; he has a vision for the country and he will make it work.”

If he completes his second term, the voracious reader will be only 49 and is expected to pursue his dream of becoming a writer.

“I’m building up stories,” he told Le Point magazine last week.

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POLITICS

‘Build together’: The French government’s to do list for the next five years

France’s Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne outlined on Wednesday the government’s plans for the next five years in her first speech to the National Assembly since June’s legislative elections.

'Build together': The French government's to do list for the next five years

After congratulating newly elected deputies, Borne called on opposition parties to work with the governing party to reform, the French having chosen during the last legislative elections not to give them an absolute majority. 

“The French are asking us to take our responsibilities. We will do it. Together we will respond to the challenge of abstention … the demand for action … we will meet the requirement of responsibility,” she said.

“They urge us to do things differently, a sustained dialogue, the active search for compromise. The context obliges us, the war in Ukraine reminds us how fragile peace is”, she continued, also referring to “the ecological emergency which is becoming more present every second”. 

She added: “The French are asking us to talk more, to talk better, to build together.”

Among the challenges facing the government, Borne spoke of “environmental responsibility” and “improving the public accounts”. 

Here are the key points of her speech:

Cost of living

A bill to help French people with the cost of living and improve purchasing power will be the first major piece of government legislation put to the Assembly, on July 18th.

Borne, heckled by a febrile parliament, singled out the abolition of the TV licence, saying it would “save €138 per year for the French. Taxation will be one of our areas of debate, but it can be a subject of compromise.”

Pensions

On pensions, Borne said: “Our social model is a paradox: one of the most generous and one of those where we work the shortest. For the prosperity of our country and the sustainability of our pay-as-you-go system (…) we will have to gradually work a little longer”.

She promise to consult with social partners on pension reform.

Energy

Elisabeth Borne confirms the government’s intention to hold “100 percent of the capital of EDF” – effectively announcing the re-nationalisation of the energy supplier. “We must ensure our sovereignty in the face of the consequences of the war in Ukraine,” she said.

The State already owns about 80 percent of the business.

“This evolution will permit EDF to reinforce its capacities to carry out in the shortest possible time its ambitious and indispensable projects for our future energy” supplies, she added.

Shares in EDF jumped more than five percent higher, having traded down five percent before the prime minister’s speech.

Environment

“As of September, we will launch a vast consultation with a view to an energy-climate orientation law,” Borne said.

The “ecological emergency” is one of the government’s biggest upcoming challenges, she said.

“We will undertake radical transformations in our way of producing, housing, moving, consuming.”

“We will be the first major ecological nation to get out of fossil fuels,” the Prime Minister said, indicating that the government was putting nuclear energy at the heart of its green policy. “It is the guarantee of our energy sovereignty, the preservation of our purchasing power.”

She added that it would also create jobs.

Employment

Borne welcomed France’s improving employment figures, highlighting the success of apprenticeships, training for job seekers and the Un jeune, une Solution scheme. “Our country can get out of the vicious circle of mass unemployment,” she said.

Borne insisted that “full employment and good employment” is “not an illusion, not an unattainable goal” – but is “within our reach”.

Combatting ‘Séparatisme’

The prime minister also prioritised security in her speech, promising that “Separatism and Islamist extremism will be fought.”

As a result, Borne plans to present a bill for the creation of 200 additional gendarmerie brigades throughout the country. She also called for faster court decisions and for victims to be listened to. 

Education

Borne promised to improve teacher salaries, as she pledged “priority action” for schools and young people, and also said the government would continue developing the universal service scheme introduced by Emmanuel Macron during his first term in office.

“During our discussions, I saw another common desire emerge: to build the Republic of equal opportunities”, continues Elisabeth Borne. She assures that President Macron wants to “break the inequalities of destiny to allow everyone to choose their future, to trace the paths of emancipation”.

National debt

Borne set out an objective of reducing France’s national debt by 2026, and bringing the deficit below 3% from 2027.

Housing 

Borne said the question of housing is a major concern for French people and announced that her government has decided to put a ceiling on rent increases, and will work to build new housing.

Inequality 

The prime minister also announced plans to reduce inequality by offering single-parent households with childcare assistance for children up to age 12. Borne also pledged to simplify the student grant system, extend the culture pass from 6ème (age 11-12), and provide 30 minutes of sport for primary school students.

The PM also discussed potential reforms to disability benefits, which are currently partially dependent on spousal earnings.

At the end of a speech that lasted 90 minutes, Borne said that she wanted “to write a new page in the political history” of France. “I pledge never to break the thread of dialogue, to build ambitious compromises. The French have called for responsibility, and we will be there. We all have a part to play, we have everything to succeed. Building together, we will succeed.”

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