Macron Urges Vaccinations, Reminds the French He’s in Charge
(Bloomberg) -- Emmanuel Macron sought to rally the French and encourage them to get vaccinated while presenting a bright outlook for the economy in a national address five months before the presidential election.
Those eligible for a booster, including people over 65 years old, must get it or see their so-called health pass de-activated -- meaning they won’t be able to go to restaurants, bars or cinemas, the French leader said.
“Get vaccinated in order to protect yourselves,” Macron said during a television address on Tuesday. “Get vaccinated in order to live normally.”
Macron still hasn’t confirmed he’ll be running again in April, but his teams are working on the campaign and his statements about French unity during the appearance suggests he’s getting ready to announce his candidacy.
“I see, feel and hear well the uncertainty, the doubts, sometimes the fatigue, sometimes the anger when I come to meet you. The period has been difficult, anguishing for many of you. But look at what we have achieved throughout these latest months by acting together, united. We have achieved the unthinkable,” Macron said. “Let’s not be afraid, let’s believe in ourselves, let’s believe in France.”
As Macron tries to connect with voters in a way that makes him appear destined for a second term, his rivals on the left are struggling to gain traction. Conservatives have yet to choose a candidate and far-right TV pundit Eric Zemmour, who is considering a run, is shunning topics like health and the economy to focus on security and immigration.
Macron’s mandate has been marked by the pandemic, the Yellow Vest movement and strikes against a plan to reform pensions, as well as setbacks in recent local elections. But polls show him winning a majority against any of the candidates in the second round of the 2022 ballot.
The president presented an optimistic outlook for the coming months and defended his track record. He scrapped a popular wealth tax -- something conservatives had tried to do but failed when they were in power -- and recently made conditions to receive unemployment benefits stricter.
Still, Macron’s government has insisted the economic rebound might be derailed by hiring difficulties for companies, global tensions on supply chains and inflation due to shortages and higher raw material prices. The government is also handing out subsidies to support households most affected by rising energy prices.
A resurgence of the coronavirus epidemic during the winter could also weigh on the economy, and Macron has made the jab effectively mandatory. About 75% of the population is now fully vaccinated and intensive-care units are no longer overwhelmed.
He also said that France “will, for the first time in decades, re-start the construction of nuclear reactors,” suggesting he may approve the request of utility Electricite de France to build six new large-scale reactors in the country to replace some of its 56 aging atomic plants, but didn’t provide any details.
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