Faced with the scale of the mobilization, Macron reaffirms his “determination”

French President Emmanuel Macron delivers a speech during a visit to the Lycée Français after…

French President Emmanuel Macron delivers a speech during a visit to the Lycée Français after a Franco-Spanish summit in Barcelona, ​​January 19, 2023.French President Emmanuel Macron delivers a speech during a visit to the Lycée Français after a Franco-Spanish summit in Barcelona, ​​January 19, 2023. LUDOVIC MARIN / AFP

The face-to-face between Emmanuel Macron and the street, which the authorities wanted to avoid at all costs, was displayed in “split-screen” on TV screens Thursday, January 19. On one side, the Place de la République in Paris, black with demonstrators against the pension reform project. On the other, the Head of State, all smiles, behind a desk, from Barcelona where he has just signed the Franco-Spanish friendship treaty with his counterpart, Pedro Sanchez. A thousand kilometers separates him from social anger, but at a time when the Parisian parade sets off, after those of the cities of the whole country, the President of the Republic accuses the blow.

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The processions swell in the streets, despite the penetrating cold, until they exceed the symbolic and so dreaded threshold of one million demonstrators: 1.12 million, according to the Ministry of the Interior, including 80,000 in Paris. “More than 2 million”, according to Philippe Martinez, secretary general of the CGT. The strongest social mobilization since the election of Emmanuel Macron.

A snub for the Head of State who has made this reform a test determining his ability, or not, to continue to transform the country. “Opinions must be able to be expressed, it is the very principle of a democracy”, he first nuanced from the National Art Museum of Catalonia. Then, ignoring the line set for his government to avoid blows of the chin, the Head of State recalls that democracy also implies respecting one’s electoral legitimacy. No matter how big the dispute, “we have to make this reform”he says: “I said things clearly during the campaign [présidentielle]. »

And if some of his voters have appointed him to block the far-right candidate? “It seems to me that I was opposed to Marine Le Pen because the French chose me to be in the second round. “That does not mean that all the people who voted for yours truly in the second round [approuvent]. It’s the principle of a second round, it’s as old as democracy. But there was also a first lap that put me in the lead, insists the President of the Republic. We cannot pretend that there were no elections a few months ago. »

Read also: Article reserved for our subscribers Pension reform: 1.12 million demonstrators in the street for the first day of mobilization

Monitor the hardening of the challenge

This argument denotes past statements by the Head of State. “I know that many of our compatriots voted for me, not to support the ideas I hold, but to block those of the far right.said the president re-elected on April 24, 2022. I am aware that this vote binds me for the years to come. » Nine months later, place at the ” determination “, he warns from Spain. The power had taken as a benchmark the last major demonstration in December 2019 against the creation of a point-based pension system, hoping that Thursday’s would not exceed 800,000 demonstrators. At dawn, around Elisabeth Borne, we rejoiced at a lower strike rate than at the time. But very quickly, the figures from Toulouse (36,000), Nantes (25,000) or Lyon (23,000), many medium-sized towns and small towns, made the executive start.

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