Macron slams Le Pen’s press freedom and Constitution violations
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The French President will face Marine Le Pen on Sunday, April 24, for the second and final round of the presidential elections. Mr Macron has been travelling across France in a bid to convince French voters he is able to listen to his electorate, contrary to the accusations he received from his opponents ahead of the first round.
But as he walked through a crowd in Châtenois, the incumbent leader was confronted by an angry voter.
He told Mr Macron: “I’ve never seen a president as bad as you.”
Mr Macron is struggling to convince working class voters to vote for him in the runoff and not far-right candidate Marine Le Pen, who has veered to the left on economic issues and focused her attacks on Mr Macron on his plans to raise the retirement age.
Campaigning in France’s former industrial heartland, Mr Macron on Monday said he was prepared to readjust his planned pension reform, which is at the core of his programme for re-election.
“I am ready to change the timeline and say we don’t necessarily have to do a reform by 2030 if I feel that people are too anxious”, Mr Macron said.
He was also prepared, he said, to “open the door” on pushing the country’s retirement age from 62 at the moment to 64, rather than 65, his initial proposal.
French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire, an ally of Mr Macron, told broadcaster CNews that Mr Macron had not changed his plans on the pensions reform and is still “totally determined” to carry out the reform.
“We will stick to (the minimum age of) 65, but there will be options for discussing details,” said Mr Le Maire.
But according to Marine Le Pen, Emmanuel Macron’s offer to soften planned pension reforms is a “manoeuvre” to lure voters ahead of the second round of France’s presidential election, but he would still execute the original plans if re-elected.
“There is nothing to expect here from Emmanuel Macron. He will go all the way to the end with obsession, because it’s a reality that the minimum (retirement) age of 65 is his obsession”, said Ms Le Pen.
Manuel Bompard, the head of the campaign of far-left candidate Jean-Luc Melenchon, who came in third in the first round, said he did not agree with President Macron’s or Ms Le Pen’s retirement proposals.
“I tell Macron this: If he really wants to appeal to our voters … he has to make a clear commitment,” he said.
Speaking on Public Senat television, Bompard pointed to the possibility mentioned by Mr Macron of carrying out a national referendum on the minimum pension age.
Mr Macron and Ms Le Pen traded blows on Monday as they sought to appeal to left-leaning voters who now face the tough decision whether to give their vote to a far-right populist or to a liberal many opponents branded a “president of the rich”.
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Former conservative French President Nicolas Sarkozy on Tuesday endorsed Emmanuel Macron ahead of the second round in France’s presidential election, in a move that may complicate Macron’s charm offensive with left-wing voters.
Mr Sarkozy’s endorsement will certainly help the French president attract voters who backed the conservatives’ Valerie Pecresse in the first round, but could deter left-wing voters who will see a confirmation Macron is as right-wing as Sarkozy.
“I will vote for Emmanuel Macron because I think he has the necessary experience as we face a deep international crisis, more complex than ever”, Mr Sarkozy said in a social media post.
Some in Macron’s camp fear an endorsement by Sarkozy, a reviled figure on the left for pushing through plans to raise the retirement age above 60 and for his muscular law-and-order policies, could push some of them to abstain.
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