MEPs jeer as Weber goads Macron with brutal election swipe
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However, centre-right challenger Valerie Pecresse will present a “formidable” obstacle for the French President, should he confirm his intention to seek a second term, predicted Professor Dorit Geva. Prof Geva, the founding Dean of Undergraduate Studies at Central European University in Budapest, was speaking against a backdrop of increasingly tetchy Anglo-French relations.
However, centre-right challenger Valerie Pecresse will present a “formidable” obstacle for the French President, should he confirm his intention to seek a second term, predicted Professor Dorit Geva.
Prof Geva, the founding Dean of Undergraduate Studies at Central European University in Budapest, was speaking against a backdrop of increasingly tetchy Anglo-French relations.
Mr Macron stirred things up last month, accusing Boris Johnson’s Government of “not doing what it says” in respect of Brexit and fishing licences for French vessels seeking to operate in UK waters.
He returned to the subject during his speech to MEPs in Strasbourg on January 19, suggesting Brexit “requires the British Government to comply in good faith with the agreements concluded with our Union”.
Prof Geva suggested his confrontational stance was part of a wider strategy.
Asked whether the 44-year-old was using the issue of fishing, and to some extent the Northern Ireland Protocol, to “scapegoat” Britain for narrow political reasons, she said: “There is substance to that view.
“Macron would have learned from Brexit campaigns that fishing disputes are excellent fodder for nationalist virtue-signalling.
“Plus the UK can now be cast as a rival, rather than a European partner.”
Referencing the Republicans candidate, she added: “The elections in France now hinge on who is seen as the genuine representative of right-wing politics, and on effective management of the pandemic.
“On both fronts Pecresse is a formidable rival. She has crafted her campaign as a candidacy representing the true soul of the political right, an authentic conservative leader with proven competency in complex political and administrative leadership.
“Right now Pecresse is Macron’s main challenger, and Macron and his team know it.”
With the first round of voting scheduled for April 10, Prof Geva said: “Like all leaders in Europe, the Covid situation is the main challenge towards re-election.
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“Macron’s likelihood of defeating Pecresse at the polls depends on whether unrest will emerge from pandemic management, and how much he can credibly claim the mantle of representing the right.
“Macron risks running into the same trap Nicolas Sarkozy had set for himself when he lost re-election in 2012 to Socialist candidate Francois Hollande, a colourless figure who promised calm and tranquility following five years of Sarkozy antics.
“Unlike Marine Le Pen, Pecresse can credibly claim to have a proven track record of government leadership, which can resonate with voters during a pandemic which demands intense management skills.”
At the start of 2022, Mr Macron permitted the EU flag to be hung from the Arc de Triomphe to mark France’s six-month Presidency of the European Council, a decision which was condemned by both Ms Pecresse and Ms Le Pen.
Additionally, he has stirred up controversy by vowing to “p*** off” people who had not been vaccinated in a bid to persuade them to do so.
Prof Geva said: “Macron’s political instincts are to mobilise a muscular presidency, and a muscular state.
“We should not be surprised that he has the same instincts with regard to the EU Presidency.
“He saw a chance to make a bold statement with one of the most famous monuments in Europe, and wasted no time in showing that a proud and strong France is in charge now.”
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She added: “Macron also enjoys creating controversy as a means of attracting attention towards select issues and away from his political weaknesses.
“Hanging the EU flag on the Arc to Triomphe and his vow to p*** of the unvaccinated are all part of the same Macron playbook.
“He is showing he’s the boss, and being the agent of controversy helps keep him in the eye of his chosen storm.”
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