Emmanuel Macron Goes Low-Key, Finally Declaring Bid for Re-election


PARIS — President Emmanuel Macron declared his candidacy for a second five-year time period within the presidential election subsequent month, formalizing his resolution with a low-key letter in a number of newspapers that exhorted the French to let him information “this stunning and collective journey that is named France.”

The serene tone of the letter, showing only a day earlier than the deadline for candidates and 38 days earlier than the primary spherical of the election, mirrored the rising confidence of a pacesetter whose stature has grown in a number of methods because the onset of the disaster in Ukraine.

However with a brief letter that offered few particulars on his plans for the nation, even because it made clear that the battle in Ukraine wouldn’t enable him “to run the form of marketing campaign I might have wished,” Mr. Macron, a centrist, risked being seen as floating heedlessly above the fray on his diplomatic mission to avoid wasting Europe.

“If the gravity of the worldwide scenario calls for a spirit of accountability and a dignified opposition, the French folks can’t be disadvantaged of a real democratic debate,” Valérie Pécresse, the center-right candidate for the Republicans, declared. “Emmanuel Macron should be held accountable.”

The very fact is, nevertheless, that battle in Europe has pushed every part apart, even this election, to the nice frustration of Mr. Macron’s opponents. “It’s been months now that the President Macron has been on the service of the candidate Macron,” mentioned Anne Hidalgo, the socialist candidate and mayor of Paris whose marketing campaign has by no means gained any traction.

It has been clear for a lot of months that Mr. Macron was going to run — he informed Le Parisien, a day by day, in January that “there isn’t any false suspense. I need it.” However he judged that permitting his opponents to dangle whereas refusing to interact them would play in his favor, particularly if he was engaged in issues of battle and peace.

Though Mr. Macron’s frenetic diplomacy and repeated conversations with Russian President Vladimir V. Putin — he spoke to him once more at the moment for 90 minutes — failed to forestall a battle, he has been praised extra for having tried than he has been criticized for having an exaggerated or naïve religion in his powers of persuasion. If something, it has added to his stature.

Polls present Mr. Macron, 44, with a snug lead over his opponents, gaining 28 p.c of the vote within the first spherical of the election on April 10, up from 25 p.c final month. Marine Le Pen, the perennial far-right candidate, trails him with 17 p.c, Ms. Pécresse at 14 p.c, and Éric Zemmour, the upstart anti-immigrant nationalist, at 12 p.c.

No candidate on the splintered left of the political spectrum seems to have a critical likelihood of reaching the second spherical on April 24. The 2 leaders within the first spherical face one another within the runoff.

The president’s one clear admonition to the French was that they need to work more durable. “There isn’t any independence with out financial energy,” he mentioned. “We should due to this fact work more durable and decrease the taxes that weigh on work and manufacturing.”

That appeared like early Macron, the daring reformer of 2017 who pushed to release the state-centric and regulation-heavy French economic system. Then the Yellow Vest motion disrupted his plans, and the Covid-19 disaster turned the free-market champion right into a “spend-whatever-it-takes” apostle of state intervention.

It was unclear how the French, for whom an acceptable stability between work and leisure is a vital characteristic of life, would reply to being informed to work more durable. The phrase appeared to include a transparent trace that Mr. Macron would return to his stalled try to reform the French pension system, which drew the longest transit strike in France’s fashionable historical past.

“After 5 years, Macron sends us a letter,” Fabien Roussel, the communist candidate whose vigorous marketing campaign has drawn some consideration, mentioned in a put up on Twitter. “However the rising payments come each month. So do stagnant wages and pensions.”

Whether or not financial arguments will acquire any traction is, nevertheless, uncertain so long as the bloodshed in Ukraine continues.

The battle was humiliating to Ms. Le Pen and Mr. Zemmour, Mr. Macron’s opponents on the far proper, each of whom had expressed excessive reward of President Vladimir V. Putin and had been compelled into awkward retreats from their adulation. It had the same impact on Jean-Luc Mélenchon, who has additionally been sympathetic to Russia’s grievances and important of NATO. He leads the exhausting left and is polling behind Mr. Zemmour.

One other method the battle has favored Mr. Macron has been its galvanizing and unifying impact on Europe, delivering the “Europe-puissance,” or European energy, of which he has been the main supporter.

The 27-nation European Union, which not often achieves unity, has come collectively on a wave of concern at Mr. Putin’s brutality. It has offered over a half-billion {dollars} in assist to Ukraine to purchase weapons and associated provides, so breaking a taboo. It has imposed sanctions aimed toward inflicting the “collapse of the Russian economic system,” within the phrases of the French economic system minister. It has banned Russian civil plane from European airspace.

Above all, its strongest member, Germany, broke with its self-imposed postwar constraints, prioritizing army spending and sending weapons to Ukraine. All this has allowed Mr. Macron to say that his imaginative and prescient of a Europe of actual energy and “strategic autonomy” was no pipe dream however a mandatory and overdue adjustment.

In his letter Mr. Macron painted a optimistic image of a France that has come by a number of crises with decrease taxes, a 7.4 p.c unemployment fee that’s at its lowest stage in 15 years, and a greener economic system. “All this has allowed us to be credible and to persuade our principal neighbors to begin to construct a Europe-power, in a position to defend itself and weigh on the course of historical past.”

The French president has lengthy argued that the selection going through Europe was between muscular unity or marginal irrelevance. Till the battle in Ukraine his pleas usually fell on deaf ears. Not, with a threatening Russia on the European Union’s doorstep.

Earlier than the battle, Mr. Macron spoke usually of the necessity to combine Russia in a brand new safety structure. It was by no means clear precisely what he meant. The low level of his diplomacy was most likely a presidential assertion on Feb. 21 that President Biden and President Putin had each accepted the precept of holding a summit “on safety and strategic stability in Europe.” Three days later, the battle started.

Right now, after the dialog with Mr. Putin, a senior aide to Mr. Macron mentioned the president believes ‘‘the worst is to return’’ and that Russia appeared intent on seizing all of Ukraine. By way of his relationship with each the Russian president and President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine, Mr. Macron remains to be attempting to avert the worst.

After a faltering begin in combating Covid-19, Mr. Macron’s authorities mentioned Thursday that France would scrap masks in all indoor locations, apart from public transport, on March 14. Vaccine passes would not be required.

Even the pandemic appears to have labored to the president’s benefit ultimately. The announcement was clearly timed to painting the president as the person who delivered France from its clutches.

Aurelien Breeden contributed reporting from Paris.


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