Emmanuel Macron has started his six-week political tour of France aimed at “taking the pulse” of the country at the end of the coronavirus crisis.
With the regional elections approaching this month and, above all, next year’s presidential battle, the French leader will make two regional visits per week until mid-July.
The exercise of meeting with the French aims to promote what he calls the “forgotten successes” of his last four years in power, eclipsed by 14 months of coronavirus blockages and before that more than a year of yellow vests (yellow vests) protests.
“Just a few days after the first reopening and with the approach of the summer season, these visits will be an opportunity for the Head of State to meet the French, to promote our tourist heritage with a view to the next holidays and to highlight the importance of tourism. , a major sector for our economy, hard hit by the health crisis, “we read in a press release from the Elysee.
On Wednesday, the president visited the medieval village of Saint-Cirq-Lapopie, previously voted the most picturesque village in France, and Martel, both located in the Lot department in southwestern France.
Presidential aides said the purpose of the visits was “to listen rather than talk”. Part of Macron’s pre-election offensive has been to abandon official speeches in order to woo young voters, who have been among the hardest hit by the social and economic consequences of the coronavirus.
Ten days ago, the president participated in a true or false trivia game with the popular YouTube duo Mcfly and Carlito – real names David Coscas and Raphaël Carlier, who have over 6.6 million followers . the 36 minute video, filmed at the Élysée Palace and released on May 23, was viewed by nearly 9 million people in 24 hours and is now watched by well over 13 million.
With abstentions likely to be a key feature of next year’s presidential election and polls suggesting that young voters questioning their future after the pandemic are tempted by political extremes, French analysts have considered the Mcfly and Carlito video as a masterstroke of political marketing.
“The president must show that he is not locked in his ivory tower and that he is always in touch with young people and current trends,” said The world.
However, others felt that Macron risked alienating a section of the electorate who viewed such antics as mind-numbing “presidential status,” an opinion unmitigated by Macron appearing in an official suit and tie.
Laurent Jacobelli, spokesperson for Marine Le Pen’s far-right National Rally, said FranceInfo: “To put the last nail in the coffin of the presidential function, he becomes YouTuber.”
Mathieu Slama, political consultant, said the exercise demonstrated a “purely utilitarian view of politics, dominated by marketing thinking that divides the electorate into targets to be treated separately.” He called it “pure entertainment, so overall quite painful to watch”.
“With this video, the Elysee leaves the political arena and places itself solely on the ground of entertainment and spectacle,” writes Slama in Le Figaro. “This video is unprecedented in the history of political communication. It is therefore anything but anecdotal, and says something serious about the way in which power now considers communication and political function today.
Last month, Macron announced via TikTok that an experimental project “Cultural pass” program was to be extended and that all 18-year-olds would be offered € 300 (£ 260) to spend on artistic and cultural activities, including cinema or theater tickets, books and art materials, instruments music, museum visits or dancing, singing or theater lessons.
Macron’s latest national marathon echoes his tour of the ‘Great Debate’ at the start of 2019, an unprecedented exercise in citizen consultation on how to solve France’s problems, in response to the anti-government revolt of the waistcoat movement yellow.
He is not the first French leader to seek to show that he has the common touch. An unfortunate consultation exercise by King Louis XVI in 1789, sought to allay popular discontent, but sparked the French Revolution and led the king to the guillotine four years later.
Valéry Giscard d’Estaing invited garbage collectors to the Élysée at Christmas 1974, then began to invite himself to dinner with French families. François Mitterrand took part in a television program in which he spoke verlan, a form of slang, in order to appear trendy.
Macron’s popularity hovers around 40% in the polls, much higher than that of his two predecessors, the socialist François Hollande and the conservative Nicolas Sarkozy, at the same stage of their five-year term. Both have served.
While center-right Republicans and Socialists are struggling to find credible candidates 10 months from the presidential elections in two rounds of April and May, current forecasts place Macron in the second round with Le Pen.