by Sylvie Corbett | The Associated Press
PARIS – French President Emmanuel Macron joined the presidential race with an explosive remark about the country’s minority people – in an apparent attempt to win support from mainstream voters, but risks widening divisions over the issue In.
Macron used an obscenity to describe his strategy to pressure vaccine refusers to get coronavirus jabs. In an interview published late Tuesday by Le Parisien newspaper, he used the word “imurder”, which is rooted in the French word for “nonsense” and means rill or bug. His salty language dominated the news broadcast on Wednesday.
“Untested, I really want to bug them. And so we’ll continue to do that until the end. That’s the strategy,” he said in an interview seated at the Presidential Elysee Palace with a panel of his readers.
The outspoken, centrist president, 44, also expressed his desire to run for re-election in April’s presidential election. Yet he said he is still waiting to formally announce his candidacy because he wants to focus on the pandemic first.
Macron’s remarks come at a time when lawmakers are hotly debating new measures that would only allow vaccinated people to enjoy leisure activities such as eating out. More than 91% of adults in France are fully vaccinated.
Macron aims to “get everyone’s attention” and “make your contenders disappear on the Trump model”, tweeted political communications expert Philippe Morrow Chevrolet.
It’s also a way of pointing the finger at people who haven’t been vaccinated as being responsible for the situation – rather than blaming himself for the record number of infections, Moro Chevrolet said. .
A close observer of French politics, journalist Frédéric Saez, said on France Culture Radio that it appeared Macron wanted to “capitalize” on the displeasure expressed by many French voters. Macron was responding to a question from a woman who expressed anger over the cancellation of planned surgeries for vaccinated people, while unvaccinated patients occupy most of the beds in intensive care units.
Commenters noted that the comment seemed even more surprising when Macron expressed regret for hurting people’s sentiments with some of the comments.
“There are words that can hurt and I think that’s never right… Respect is part of political life,” he said on national television.
During his tenure, Macron upset many people when he told an unemployed man that he had to “cross the road” to find work. Or when he told retirees with small pensions to stop complaining. And when he suggested that some French employees are “lazy”.
In recent months, France has seen weekly street protests against virus-related restrictions and vaccine requirements.
Supporters of Macron suggested that the president vehemently expressed what some vaccinated people already think about the unvaccinated, in a country bitterly divided over the issue.
“Let’s talk frankly. Who spoils whose life today? Who ruins the lives of our health workers who have been working for two years… in our ICU to save the patients who are mainly not vaccinated today ? It is they who are opposing the vaccine,” said government spokesman Gabriel Attal.
“To put things bluntly … the words of the President of the Republic seem to me well below the anger of a very large majority of the French people” against those without vaccinations, he said.
A government official said on condition of anonymity because he was not allowed to speak publicly that “this is the president’s style. He has always been very outspoken.”
Lawmakers in parliament are debating the government’s planned new vaccine pass this week.
The measure will exclude unvaccinated persons from places such as restaurants, cinemas, theatres, museums and playgrounds. The pass will be required on inter-regional trains and buses and also on domestic flights.
Far-right presidential candidate Marine Le Pen, who opposed the vaccine pass proposal, said the president “wants to wage war against a part of the French.”
Another far-right candidate, Eric Zemor, accused Macron of “brutality”. On the far left, presidential candidate Jean-Luc Mélenchon asked: “Is the president in control of what he says?”
France on Tuesday reported a record-breaking 271,686 daily virus cases as Omicron infections race across the country, burdening hospital workers and threatening to disrupt transport, schools and other services.
Macron’s government is pressing to avoid a new economically damaging lockdown that could hurt his re-election prospects. Instead ministers are trying to get the vaccine pass bill through parliament in the hope that it will be enough to keep hospitals from becoming overwhelmed.
More than 20,000 people are hospitalized with COVID-19 in France, a number that has been rising steadily for weeks, but not as fast as the country’s infection rate.
More than 72% of France’s ICU beds are full of COVID-19 patients, and its once-famous health care system is again showing signs of stress.