French President Emmanuel Macron on Sunday warned of the coming to power of far-right leader Marine Le Pen, suggesting he should have become more involved in selling his unpopular pension reform to the country.
Speaking to Le Parisien newspaper, the 45-year-old along with others across the French political spectrum warned that the anti-immigration Le Pen is capable of taking power in the next presidential election in 2027.
She is seen as the biggest political winner of the current turmoil in France sparked by Macron’s decision to raise the retirement age.
“Marine Le Pen will come (to power) if we are unable to respond to the country’s challenges and if we introduce the habit of lying or denying reality,” Macron told the paper.
He faced a storm of criticism after he forced the pension bill through the House of Representatives without a vote using a controversial constitutional force.
The increase in the retirement age from 62 to 64 is opposed by two-thirds of voters, according to polls, and appeared to lack a majority in parliament before Macron’s government triggered Article 49.3 of the constitution to ram it through.
Macron has kept a low profile since the start of the year, making Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne the face of reform.
“Perhaps the error was not present enough to give substance to the reform and implement it ourselves,” Macron added, adding that he still had “faith” in Borne whose job is at stake.
After signing the bill into law earlier this month, Macron went out last week to meet with voters in eastern and southern France, where he was loudly jeered and berated.
Angry protesters chased him and his ministers all week, beating pans, an ancient French protest technique that is gaining popularity.
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