Emmanuel Macron just staked his claim to a second term as French president.
In a speech to the nation on Sunday, Macron sought to pivot his leadership forward to the economic recovery after the pandemic claimed almost 30,000 lives in France. He faces re-election in 2022.
Known for waxing lyrical, Macron limited his speech to 20 minutes and confidently flagged a reboot to his presidency. The risk is that while virus infections have slowed, long-festering domestic grievances from Yellow Vest protesters to pension reform will resurface.
“The moment we’re going through, which comes after numerous crises over 15 years, demands that we begin a new stage to fully re-establish control over our lives,” said Macron against the backdrop of the Elysee Palace gardens. “This will be the priority for the next years.”
By looking forward, Macron brushed off a report that he may resign and call an early election. Instead, he pledged to keep transforming the country.
It’s been a difficult year for the 42-year-old leader, whose popularity has been dented by the government’s handling of the coronavirus. Apart from customary pledges — increasing growth, more decentralization, a greener economy, reducing inequality — Macron also emphasized the need for more “solidarity.”
This could foreshadow a turn to the left and a focus on redistribution and generous safety nets for Macron, whose critics have dubbed him “president of the rich” after he phased out a popular wealth tax.
At the same time, he insisted on the need to “work and produce more not to depend on others” — a nod to conservative voters ahead of municipal elections on June 28.
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