On the land of Le Pen, Emmanuel Macron says he is ready to change his plan on pensions

© 2022, L’Obs

Behind the red brick facades, one of the poorest towns in France. In Denain, a former working-class city in the North still bearing the scars of deindustrialization, the far right has long since made its bed. Here, on April 21, 2002, it was Jean-Marie Le Pen who came out on top in the first round of the presidential election, winning just over 23% of the vote at the time. Twenty years later, her daughter, Marine, was also acclaimed, and much more: 41.67% of the inhabitants of Denain voted for her on Sunday April 11. While Emmanuel Macron, he collected only 14.73% of the vote. And it is here, in the heart of this constituency held by the Frontist deputy Sébastien Chenu, in a territory far from being favorable to him, that the president-candidate launched this Monday the distance duel which now opposes him to the candidate of the National rally.

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The mayor of Denain, a socialist, Anne-Lise Dufour-Tonini, was warned Sunday afternoon of the imminent visit of the head of state. This Monday, he arrived in the early afternoon, and immediately took off in a crowd, in a square adjoining the town hall. Health, purchasing power and pensions: for three hours, in contact with the inhabitants (but far enough from the majority of some 80 journalists who were most of the time carefully kept away), Emmanuel Macron defended the axes main points of his program. Putting, as he has done regularly since his Defense meeting, the accent on the “social strength” of his project.

On several occasions, he had to justify himself with the results of his five-year term. To two young women, anxious to know if he was planning to reintegrate healthcare workers who were refractory to vaccination, and who questioned him about his desire to“fuck the unvaccinated”he has answered : “I said it in an affectionate, quote-unquote way”. The response came: “When someone tells me fuck youexcuse me, but I don’t take it kindly”. In the crowd, the “Macron resignation” echoed the “Macron president”.

“I don’t want to act like nothing happened”

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After this first stage, the Head of State was then expected in Carvin, in Pas-de-Calais. Which also happens to be, and above all, a municipality in the constituency of Marine Le Pen. In front of her, it is now “project against project”, explain the macronists. Marine Le Pen intends to lower the VAT on basic necessities? He hammers his proposals for purchasing power (dividend, profit-sharing, Macron bonus, etc.). She also wants to lower the VAT on energy? He defends the 18 cents reduction at the pump implemented by the government. “On purchasing power, if we had not acted, you would pay 140% more for gas and 100% more for electricity”, he said. Pointing to the fact that her rival does not explain ” how it finances this reduction in VAT which it advocates.

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Despite a slight lead given by the polls, the outcome of the second round still seems very uncertain. And while Jean-Luc Mélenchon’s electorate could well play the arbiters, the head of state apparently seemed to want to give some pledges to this part of the left. “I want to talk to all voters”he said, slippery as his ” project “ could be “enriched” and “discussed”. “I don’t want to act like nothing happened”, he continued. Without going too far, leaving a cafe in Carvin, the head of state ended up doing what looks like a change in its plan to postpone the legal retirement age to 65 : he said he was ready to discuss the “rhythm and bounds” of reform. In other words, to revise downwards its ambition. It must be said that his proposal appears to be a foil for a large part of the left-wing electorate.

“Because we can’t say on Sunday evening, I want to gather, and when we go to listen to people say:

I’m not moving” ».

While his ministers repeated a few hours earlier that the Macronian project was not intended to move, he also put forward the hypothesis of a referendum on the subject, giving the impression of a great improvisation.

This Tuesday, after having surveyed the lands of the far right, Emmanuel Macron will continue with the Grand Est: he will go to Mulhouse and Strasbourg – two cities which placed Jean-Luc Mélenchon in the lead in the first round.

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