| 4 March 2024, Monday |

Macron launches re-election bid to protect French from ‘world’s disorders’

French President Emmanuel Macron said on Thursday that he will seek re-election in April, seeking a mandate to shepherd the eurozone’s second-largest economy through the fallout from Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and the COVID-19 outbreak.

Macron declared his candidacy in a letter that appeared in many regional newspapers.

If he succeeds, he will be the first French leader in two decades to be re-elected for a second term.

“We did not complete what we set out to do. There are certain decisions that, based on what I’ve learned from you, I would probably do differently “Macron stated in the letter that he has had to deal with a variety of crises over the last five years, including terrorist assaults, COVID, riots, and war.

He defended his performance, citing a 15-year low in unemployment. “I’m running to preserve our ideals, which are under danger from the world’s pathologies,” he continued.

Without giving a detailed manifesto, Macron said he would continue to cut taxes and push for the French to work more, suggesting a return of an abandoned pension reform. He also hinted at a reform of the education system, saying teachers should be freer and paid better.

Macron enters the presidential race just a month or so before the election’s first round on April 10. Opinion polls project that he is favorite to win a contest that sees multiple challengers on the right and left fragmenting the vote.

The Ukraine war has already upended the campaign, complicating Macron’s entry into the race and leaving two far-right contenders who had so far performed strongly in polls to justify their hitherto pro-Russia, pro-Putin stance.

With Macron at the forefront of European efforts to secure a ceasefire and a peaceful resolution to the conflict, a campaign with fewer rallies by the incumbent and an unusual focus on foreign policy lies ahead.

Macron, who has spoken on the phone with Putin 11 times this year, has said he would continue as the war rages on and acknowledged in the letter he will not be able to campaign as he would have liked because of the war.

That may not hurt his chances. Voter surveys have shown a bounce in support for Macron as far-right leaders Marine Le Pen and Eric Zemmour revise their views on relations with Moscow and amid an outpouring of sympathy for Ukrainian refugees.

Macron became France’s youngest leader since Napoleon five years ago, pitching himself as a political outsider who would break the old left-right dichotomy, make France more investor-friendly and make the EU stronger.

He cut taxes for big business and the wealthy, loosened labor laws and marketed France Inc. as a start-up nation, but anti-government ‘yellow vest’ protests and then the COVID-19 pandemic forced him to slow his reform plans.

  • Reuters