A man slapped Emmanuel Macron in the face on Tuesday, briefly interrupting a walking tour during the French president’s tour of the provinces ahead of this month’s regional elections.
Two 28-year-old men were interrogated by the gendarmerie after the audible blow – accompanied by the shout of the royal slogan “Montjoie Saint-Denis!” and “Down with the felines!” – I was delivered by a man Among a group of onlookers in the southern town of Taine L’Hermitage.
Macron’s Elysee Palace said a man “tried to hit” the president, talks and handshakes with the crowd resumed immediately after the incident and the visit continued.
Macron himself downplayed the attack. “The vast majority of French people are concerned with real problems,” he said He told Dauphiné Libéré Newspaper in an interview shortly thereafter. Let’s not allow isolated incidents or excessively violent individuals – there are always some at demonstrations too – to dominate the public debate. She doesn’t deserve it.”
Opposition parties strongly criticized the Tour de France ahead of regional elections on June 20 and 27, arguing that he was using his presidential status to promote his La République en Marche party without being subject to campaign finance restrictions.
His supporters argued that he only wanted to “pull the pulse” of the French people to see what he could achieve in the last year of his presidential term, which initially tarnished anti-government. yellow jackets Protests from 2018 and then before the Covid-19 pandemic.
But Marine Le Pen, leader of the far-right National Rally and politician expected to be its main challenger in next year’s presidential election, asked: “Is there one person in France who has not understood that Emmanuel Macron is taking advantage of his position as head of propaganda for the regional elections?”
But, on Tuesday, politicians of all stripes rallied to condemn the violence against Macron.
Le Pen said that “behaviour is unacceptable and should be strongly condemned in a democracy,” while Jean-Luc Mélenchon of the far-left La France Insoumise (France Not Untouchable) party, which is usually highly critical of Macron, said he stood in solidarity with the president.
Shortly before the incident, Macron called for political calm. He was responding to Melenchon’s prediction of a “murder or serious incident” in the final week of next year’s presidential campaign in order to demonize Muslims, and to a right-wing later posting a video showing the simulated murder. A supporter of Melenchon.
Macron said on Tuesday: “Opposition parties can express themselves freely in a democracy, but the flip side of that is to put an end to violence and hatred…the French need something else, they are tired of the crisis and the bad news.”
Although his critics sometimes accuse Macron of being arrogant and out of touch with reality, he enjoys wandering around and arguing or chatting with passersby when he travels around the country. He is famous among his critics for telling a gardener visiting the Elysee Palace on a cultural open day who complained of lack of work that he could find him a job in a restaurant or hotel just by crossing the road.
Macron is not the first French president to be targeted with violence in a public place. Nicolas Sarkozy was sometimes abused and treated rough. During a National Day parade in July 2002, a far-right activist attempted to shoot Jacques Chirac with a 22-gauge rifle, but he missed it and was later imprisoned.