Two days before the second round of the presidential election in France, the far-right candidate Marine Le Pen is betting to prevail against the hostility of rare violence aroused among some by outgoing President Emmanuel Macron, in a country renowned for its love-hate relationship to its leaders.
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At her final campaign meeting on Thursday evening, Ms Le Pen stepped up her attacks on Emmanuel Macron’s personality, accusing him of being condescending and “unlimited arrogance” during the televised debate. in-between rounds.
“Everyone, last night, understood that Emmanuel Macron did not like the French, and especially those who do not agree with his policy,” she said.
The incumbent president’s raised eyebrows and his offensive tone during the debate – he repeatedly attacked Ms Le Pen and claimed that her program “makes no sense” – have since been widely commented on by analysts.
“The president was quite unnecessarily aggressive at times,” said Jean-Yves Camus of the Jean-Jaurès Foundation to AFP.
A visceral rejection
Nothing new in these criticisms for the youngest president of the French Republic, a graduate of the prestigious National School of Administration (ENA), a pure product of the system and a former investment banker. What is felt in him as arrogance is a weak point that has dogged him since the beginning of his political career.
Its divisive side has sparked numerous articles, books and comments on TV shows, the peak reached during the demonstrations of the “Yellow Vests” social movement in 2018 and 2019. The violence that punctuated these demonstrations – and the high number of injured, including people blinded by riot gun fire from the security forces – deeply shocked some French people.
“There is a kind of hatred that he concentrates and that we had never encountered before,” journalist Nicolas Domenach, who has written two books on the outgoing president, told AFP.
“It came back during this five-year term, at times in a brutal way” and it “threatened to come back anytime, or at any time”, adds the co-author of “Macron, why so much hatred? “.
Only former President Charles de Gaulle had aroused such visceral rejection by part of the population when he was in power, continues Mr. Domenach, mainly because of the independence granted to Algeria in 1962, a decision seen by its detractors as a betrayal.
However, so far Mr Macron is ahead of Marine Le Pen in the polls by 55% to 45%.
The image that Emmanuel Macron gives off displeases some, as does his tone and the impression of ultra-centralized power.
His passage through the Rothschild bank accentuates his elitist reputation in the eyes of many.
For a certain number of French people, his career and his exits perceived as contemptuous – people “who are nothing”, the “lazy people” refractory to any reform or the alleged possibility for the unemployed to “find work by crossing the street” – made him appear too disconnected from their daily reality.
“It crystallizes the class hatred that has its roots in French society,” comments historian Jean Garrigues, who studies the role of hatred in politics.
“It appears to some as an archetypal form of the France of the privileged, the elite, the France of the rich,” he told AFP.
The many protests against Emmanuel Macron have repeatedly referenced the French Revolution of 1789 which saw the monarchy deposed and King Louis XVI beheaded.
During some demonstrations of “Yellow Vests”, mannequins bearing the image of Mr. Macron have even been guillotined in public. Portraits were planted at the end of pikes.
“There was a revolutionary dimension, an insurrectionist spirit,” Igor Maquet, a veteran of the “Yellow Vests” protests in Nantes (western France), told AFP.
“Macron loves people”
Marine Le Pen has chosen to present herself as the voice of the oppressed, while – a lawyer by training – she herself comes from a privileged Parisian family background and heir to the party co-founded by her father, Jean-Marie Le Pen .
Despite this hatred of part of the French, Mr. Macron, centrist-liberal, achieves better scores in the polls than Mrs. Le Pen who, from the xenophobic far right, is considered “worrying” by half of the population. French.
The entourage of Mr. Macron is exasperated by the image he gives off, which contrasts, according to them, with the charming and amiable man they claim to rub shoulders with in private.
“Macron loves people,” a high-ranking MP recently told AFP, adding that the president and his wife Brigitte were embarrassed by the “gap” that they said had widened between his true personality and his image. public.