Wednesday, 3 Mar 2021

Macron’s party ‘literally hate him’ as defector warns ‘we are at point of no return’

Emmanuel Macron: Polls show Marine Le Pen’s popularity rising

The French president looks to be in turmoil ahead of France’s next election in 2022, with polls suggesting his rival Marine Le Pen could mount a big challenge to Mr Macron. The right-wing nationalist is poised to take a record-high share of the vote in a final-round presidential run-off, according to the survey by The Harris Interactive. The poll put Ms Le Pen close on the heels of the French president with 48 percent of the vote if the election took place today while Mr Macron would be narrowly re-elected with 52 percent. The worrying polling for Mr Macron comes as Ms Le Pen criticised him for not closing French borders quickly enough amid the coronavirus pandemic.

The two leaders in France are set for a long war of words ahead of the vote in 2022, but Mr Macron has also faced pressure from his own party in recent months.

Last February, Bruno Bonnell, a member of the French Assembly and En Marche ally, claimed people in France and Mr Macron’s party “literally hate” the president and even hinted at electoral losses in 2022.

He said that this feeling had been transferred to En Marche candidates, the Financial Times reported.

Mr Bonnell said: “The biggest risk is that while we would have Macron leading the country in 2022, it would be with a completely different make-up of the National Assembly and the Senate.

“But that is the price to be paid for the development of democracy.”

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Alongside this, Frédérique Tuffnell said as she quit the party because she had reached a “point of no return”.

She expressed frustration over the way the government was forcing through its radical reform of the pension system and failing to address environmental issues.

Dr Eoin Drea, a Senior Research Officer at the Wilfried Martens Centre for European Studies in Brussels, warned in October that “rising anti-EU sentiment” will be partially directed in the French President’s direction, and could cost Mr Macron in the election.

Dr Drea said: “I think data shows that for all his apparent power and ‘successes’ in Brussels, President Macron is on very shaky ground in France in advance of the next presidential elections.

“This is ironic because Macron has really succeeded – along with COVID-19 – in pushing Germany much closer to the French vision of a much more integrated and bigger Europe.

“But back home, I think the perception is that he is really one of the elite.

“I expect to see Marine Le Pen come back strongly onto our radar once normality hopefully returns in 2021.”

Mr Macron has also attracted criticism amid the EU’s row with AstraZeneca, after he claimed the Oxford vaccine “doesn’t work as expected” and appeared to be “quasi-ineffective” in the over-65s.

The statement was derided as “untrue” and “nonsense”.

Greg Clark, the chairman of the Commons science committee, said: “It seems that President Macron has made an error. It is nonsense.”

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The former Tory leader Sir Iain Duncan Smith said: “His reckless remarks damage public health by playing into the hands of the anti-vaxxers on a false premise. In this respect, he out-trumps Donald Trump.”

The comments by Mr Macron appear particularly irresponsible given France’s huge anti-vax problem.

For weeks, polls have suggested up to 60 percent of French citizens do not wish to be vaccinated.

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