French President Macron will hold a prime-time news conference in a bid to revitalise his presidency

PARIS: French President Emmanuel Macron will hold his first prime-time news conference on Tuesday to announce his top priorities for the year as he seeks to revitalize his presidency, vowing to focus on “results” despite not having a majority in parliament. More than three years before the end of his term, Macron is trying to bring in fresh faces and ideas after appointing a new centrist government last week led by France’s youngest-ever prime minister.
On Tuesday evening, Macron is expected to detail the key goals assigned to new, popular Prime Minister Gabriel Attal, 34, and Cabinet members to bolster his legacy amid growing political pressure from the far right. The Constitution doesn’t allow Macron to run for a third consecutive term in 2027.
Macron said in his New Year’s Eve address that he wants 2024 to be a year of “effective results” and “French pride” marked by the Paris Olympics this summer.
Recent opinion polls have shown that top concerns among the French include rising prices, struggling health and education systems, and security issues.
Macron’s move to refresh the government comes after two major laws he had promised were adopted last year. One pushed the retirement age from 62 to 64. The other, on immigration, is intended to strengthen France’s ability to deport foreigners who are considered undesirable.
The contentious immigration bill has been criticized by some in opposition as too right-leaning, and Macron himself had to argue it was not a victory for the far-right.
His government still faces a major challenge: With no majority in parliament, it can only pass laws by bargaining with opposition lawmakers and using special constitutional powers.
Amid other promises, Macron has vowed to bring France back to full employment by the end of his term. The proportion of jobless people fell since he arrived in office in 2017 from over 10% to about 7% last year, but it has started to rise again.
EU elections in June are another major challenge for the French president, who is a staunch supporter of the European Union.
“The upcoming European elections are key to giving EU institutions the tools, dynamics, and legitimacy to address challenges ahead,” political experts Leonie Allard and Maris Jourdain wrote in an analysis for the Atlantic Council think tank.
“A success in European elections is important for Macron at home, too. In 2019, elections in France brought the extreme right-wing National Rally into the European Parliament. It would be a major domestic setback for Macron to govern France with his party poorly represented in the Parliament,” they said.
Macron has held few wide-ranging news conferences at the Elysee Palace – and none in the evening, a timing meant to reach the broadest audience possible. Tuesday’s event will be broadcast live on several national television channels.
The first days of the new government have been marred by controversies over newly named ministers.
The appointment as culture minister of Rachida Dati, an outspoken figure from The Republicans conservative party, was highly criticized. Dati had been handed preliminary corruption-related charges in 2021 by investigative magistrates over consulting fees she received from the Renault-Nissan automobile manufacturers’ alliance.
Under French law, preliminary charges mean magistrates have strong reason to suspect wrongdoing but allow time for further investigation before deciding whether to send a case to trial.
Macron’s office argued she has the right to the presumption of innocence.
Another controversy broke out when the new education minister, Amelie Oudea-Castera, said she preferred to send her children to a private Catholic school in Paris, pointing to the issue of public school teachers who, she said, go on leave without being replaced.
The next day, she apologized for having offended some teachers.
The comments prompted an immediate debate about French elites’ privileges compared to most ordinary people, whose children attend public schools that struggle with a lack of human and financial resources. Source

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