Between opening to pensions and support for Sarkozy, Macron on a tightrope – 04/12/2022 13:28



by Tangi Salaun

PARIS (Reuters) – Former President Nicolas Sarkozy announced Tuesday that he will vote for Emmanuel Macron in the second round of the French presidential election, a double-edged sword for the head of state trying to persuade left-wing voters and blue-collar backgrounds to block the far right.

National Rally (RN) candidate Marine Le Pen launched the counteroffensive on Tuesday, the day after Emmanuel Macron hinted at possible concessions on his retirement age reform plan, saying he saw it as an “electoral ploy. “for the second round.

The challenge of the campaign between the two rounds for the two finalists is in particular to capture the electorate of Jean-Luc Mélenchon, the leader of La France Insoumise (LFI), whose candidacy under the banner of “Union popular” won nearly 22% of the votes cast.

To reassure this electorate, and more generally the French worried about their purchasing power and living conditions, which he faced on Monday in Hauts-de-France and Tuesday in the east in the cities that voted by majority for the his opponents, Emmanuel Macron said he was ready to change what was considered the main proposal of his program: pension reform.

In an interview with BFM TV on Monday, the outgoing president assured that the raising of the retirement age from 62 to 65 – which two thirds of French people say they oppose, according to an Elabe poll conducted last month – was not ” a dogma “, which would consult extensively on the subject and which would modify its project if it had aroused” too much anguish “.

“My project remains my project, I’m not going to tell you here that I change my mind overnight, instead I’m open to discussion”, Emmanuel Macron said Tuesday on the sidelines of a trip dedicated to the Mulhouse hospital (Alto Reno).


While some of his political opponents are referring to a “backlash” that could upset some of his right-wing first-round voters, Emmanuel Macron’s entourage on Tuesday said they simply showed their candidate was “listening. the French “.

“You can’t pretend you haven’t seen the results of the first round,” said Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin, himself a former candidate of the Republican Party (LR) whose candidate, Valérie Pécresse, obtained less than 5% of the votes in the first round.

In this context, it is difficult to assess the impact of the support shown by Nicolas Sarkozy, who announced on social networks that he would vote for the outgoing Head of State when he refused to publicly support Valérie Pécresse before the first round.

“Fidelity to the values ​​of the republican right and to our culture of government must lead us to respond to Emmanuel Macron’s call for a demonstration ahead of the presidential elections”, explains Nicolas Sarkozy in a message.

“We will have to get out of habits and partisan reflexes”, notes Nicolas Sarkozy, specifying that the “new era” that is coming “requires profound changes”.

“It honors me and obliges me,” replied Emmanuel Macron on the sidelines of his trip to Mulhouse.

This response of the former President of the Republic to the outstretched hand of the Head of State, who on Sunday evening said he wanted to bring together “all those who want to work for France”, on the other hand, is not within everyone’s reach, elected officials of right.

“He says he wants a big recomposition. The answer is no,” LR MP Julien Aubert told BFM TV, who said he would not choose between Emmanuel Macron and Marine Le Pen, breaking with his party’s political line.


Nicolas Sarkozy’s support may also be difficult for the outgoing head of state to manage as he tries to persuade Jean-Luc Mélenchon’s voters to vote for him, or at least not give “one voice” to Marine Le Pen, like the The Insoumis leader asked them on Sunday evening.

Faced with this attempt to reconstitute a “republican front” – former Socialist Prime Minister Lionel Jospin also announced on Tuesday that he would block the far right – Marine Le Pen on Tuesday accused Jean-Luc Mélenchon of “treason” against the popular classes.

Invited to Inter of France, the candidate RN also joked about what she presented as a “maneuver” by Emmanuel Macron on the pension reform, intended in her opinion to “try to recover or at least mitigate the opposition of left-wing voters. “. ‘.

“There is nothing to expect from Emmanuel Macron in this sector, he will go until the end of this obsession because in reality retiring at 65 is his obsession”, he assured.

“Emmanuel Macron has spent his time being dismissive and wants us to believe now that he is listening,” mocked Louis Aliot, Mayor of Perpignan and former partner of Marine Le Pen.

Even the supporters of Jean-Luc Mélenchon were not convinced by the outgoing head of state’s apparent inflection on the retirement age.

“For the moment (…) I didn’t understand where he was ready to go”, his campaign director, Manuel Bompard, commented to the public Senate, inviting Emmanuel Macron to say “things clearly” and to make firm “commitments”. for example on the question of the referendum on pension reform.

(Written by Tangi Salaün, edited by Sophie Louet)

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