Macron warns of “Brexit-like elections” in a massive rally

PARIS (Reuters) – French President Emmanuel Macron has warned of the danger of a Brexit-style election in his only campaign run ahead of the first round of the presidential election, in a bid to persuade frustrated voters and revitalize a lackluster situation. Campaign.

A week or so before the April 10 vote, Macron found himself on the defensive, with far-right leader Marine Le Pen back in the polls and a tighter race among the frontrunners in the crucial April 24 run-off. Read more

“Look at what happened with Brexit and so many other elections: what seemed improbable has already happened,” Macron told a flag-waving crowd of supporters. “Nothing impossible.”

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“The danger of extremism has reached new heights because in recent months and years, hatred and alternative realities have been normalized,” he said. “We used to see anti-Semitic and racist authors on TV shows.”

Although he is still expected to win a second term, Macron has lost ground in opinion polls, a regression that some of his aides attributed to a statement including tough and conservative measures such as raising the retirement age to 65.

Others also criticized a campaign that started late and lacked “magic”. Read more

After a rock star-like entrance onto the stage of a 35,000-seater stadium outside Paris, Macron began his two-hour speech with a long list of accomplishments and promises to create jobs in hospitals and nursing homes, in an apparent attempt to impress the center. Left-wing voters who polls say they can abstain.

“Our lives, their lives, are worth more than profits,” he told the audience, stealing a well-known anti-capitalist slogan. He also urged applause for teachers and nurses.

However, he remained true to his reform program, saying the French would have to work longer to pay for these measures, as he refused to raise taxes and increase the pile of public debt that had swelled to 102% of GDP during the pandemic.

“I do not hide the fact that we will have to work more,” Macron said, attacking rivals such as Le Pen and the far-left candidate Jean-Luc Mélenchon who have pledged to lower the retirement age to 60.

“Don’t believe those who say they will lower the retirement age to 60 or 62 and everything will be fine. This is not true,” he added.

The rally of some 30,000 supporters – about to reach its maximum capacity – was attended by former prime ministers from the left and the right and other senior party members. However, one supporter, who was asked by Reuters, found the letter frustrating.

“It’s a speech that shows he wants to explain what he’s going to do, but it lacks inspiration,” said Martin Rochbow, the 22-year-old student.

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(Reporting by Michelle Rose) Additional reporting by Elizabeth Pinault. Editing by David Holmes

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