French President Emmanuel Macron Photograph:( AFP )
A year before the next presidential election, Macron is focusing on saving jobs and reviving the pandemic-battered French economy as his country inches out of its third partial lockdown
President Emmanuel Macron's plans for bringing France out of the pandemic aren't just about resuscitating long-closed restaurants, boutiques and museums. They are also about preparing his possible campaign for a second term.
A year before the next presidential election, Macron is focusing on saving jobs and reviving the pandemic-battered French economy as his country inches out of its third partial lockdown.
The centrist president's ability to meet the challenge will be significant for his political future and for France, which is among the world's worst-hit nations with the fourth-highest number of reported COVID-19 cases and the eighth-highest death toll at more than 106,000.
While he has not officially declared his candidacy, Macron has made comments suggesting he intends to seek reelection. And he has pushed recent legislation on issues that potential rivals on the right and the left hold dear, from security to climate change.
Pollsters suggest Macron, who four years ago became the youngest president in French history, has a good chance of winning the presidency again in 2022 despite his government's oft-criticised management of the pandemic and earlier challenges to his policies, from activists protesting what they see as social and economic injustice to unions angry over retirement reforms.
The coronavirus reopening strategy Macron unveiled this month calls for most restrictions on public life to be lifted June 30, when half of France's population is expected to have received at least one vaccine shot. With up to 3 million people in France getting vaccinated each week, the government plans to allow outdoor areas of restaurants and cafes, as well as museums and nonessential shops, to resume operating on May 19.
In an interview with French media, Macron said he would visit France's regions over the summer 'to feel the pulse of the country' and to engage with people in a mass consultation aimed at 'turning the page of that moment in the nation's life'. "No individual destiny is worthwhile without a collective project," he said, giving the latest hint about a potential reelection bid.
At the moment, all opinion polls show Macron and Marine Le Pen, the far-right leader he beat in a presidential runoff election in 2017, again reaching the runoff next year. The polls also forecast that Macron would defeat National Rally leader Le Pen again, though by a smaller margin.