The French President Emmanuel Macron raised concerns about a Brexit-style upset at his last campaign rally before the first round. He did this to persuade dispirited voters and reenergize a drab campaign.
Macron is on the defensive a week before the April 10 vote. Marine Le Pen, far-right leader, has made a comeback in polls, and the race between Macron and the frontrunners for April 24th runoff is tightening.
Macron said to a crowd of flag-waving fans, “Look at the outcome of Brexit and other elections: What seemed impossible actually happened.” “Nothing is impossible.”
He said that the danger of extremism had reached new heights as hatred and alternative truths have become normalized in recent years. “We are used to seeing on television antisemitic or racist authors.”
While Macron is still expected to win a second mandate in 2018, Macron lost ground in the polls. Some aides attribute this to Macron’s manifesto, which includes conservative, tough measures like raising the state pension age from 65 to 65.
Others also criticized the campaign for being late and lacking “magic”.
After a rockstar-like entrance to the podium of a 35,000-seat stadium in Paris, Macron began his two-hour speech by listing accomplishments and promising to create jobs at hospitals. This was clearly an attempt to convince centre left voters, who pollsters believe could abstain.
He said to the crowd that “our lives, their lives are worth more than profits”, stealing an anti-capitalist slogan. He also encouraged a round of applause to be given to nurses and teachers.
He remained true to his reformist programme and said that the French would have to work harder to pay for these measures. This is because he refused tax increases or to increase the public debt, which has risen to 102% GDP since the pandemic.
Macron stated, “I am not concealing the fact that we’ll have to work more,” and attacked contenders like Le Pen or far-left candidate Jean-Luc Melenchon, who have pledged to lower the retirement age to 60.
Don’t believe anyone who says they will reduce the retirement age to 60/62 and everything will be fine. He said that this is not true.
Former left-wing and right wing prime ministers, as well as other party greats, attended the rally which attracted around 30,000 people. Reuters asked one supporter to comment on the speech and he found it disappointing.
Martin Rochepeau (22-year-old student) said, “It’s an inspiring speech that shows he wants explain what he will be doing, but it lacks inspiration.”