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The two clothes of Emmanuel Macron

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With the pace of the presidential campaign accelerating, a question arises more and more frequently. What clothes does Emmanuel Macron wear when he goes out? That of head of the French state? That of a president who is running for re-election? Both?

Officially, the president moves in his capacity as head of state, since he is still not a declared candidate in the elections.

Emmanuel Macron’s intentions are nevertheless little in doubt.

I want tohe said in early January in an interview for the newspaper The Parisian. I will announce my decision in due course, he answered at the end of January to a student who asked him if he intended to present himself. Then, at the beginning of February, the president explained to the newspaper The voice of the North that he was waiting for the pandemic and the Ukrainian crisis to subside before announcing his decision.

Besides the public statements, there’s the behind-the-scenes work that offers clues about the campaign in the making.

Political posters posted.

Campaign posters for Emmanuel Macron’s party are already visible in Paris.

Photo: Reuters / BENOIT TESSIER

First, the president’s allies quietly launched a campaign site. The page named with you offers a portrait of different French voters and their priorities, without ever seeing the photo or the name of Emmanuel Macron. You have to click on the legal notices to realize that the site belongs to La République en Marche, the political formation of Mr. Macron.

Then there is the question of the sponsorships of local elected officials who are essential to confirm a presidential candidacy. According to data made public by the Constitutional Council at the beginning of February, Emmanuel Macron, yet still not a candidate, has already received more than the 500 necessary sponsorships, a number of supports that none of his opponents has yet collected.

An annoying ambiguity

In the absence of an official announcement, it is therefore still as head of the French state that Emmanuel Macron travels across the country for visits which often aim to defend his balance sheet and announce investments.

This was the case at the beginning of February in Liévin and Lens, in Pas-de-Calais, where the president among other things announced the injection of 200 million euros into this region strongly marked by its mining past.

Some, like a local socialist elected official whom we met after the president’s visit, do not take too much offense at the possible double role played by the person who comes to distribute public funds.

We welcomed him […]it is always important to agree to announce the means to be able to continue the renovation of our territoryshe says.

But for others, the ambiguity has gone on long enough.

The elected member of the National Rally in Pas-de-Calais, Bruno Clavet.

The elected official of the National Rally in Pas-de-Calais, Bruno Clavet, asks Emmanuel Macron to formalize his candidacy.

Photo: TurnedNews.com / Raphaël Bouvier-Auclair.

Obviously, that poses a problem, because from the moment you are a candidate, you obviously incur costs. And there, today, these campaign costs are made with taxpayers’ money because it’s with the checkbook of the Republicexplains Bruno Clavet.

This regional elected representative of the National Rally, a party whose presidential candidate Marine Le Pen is herself a deputy in the Pas-de-Calais region, asks Emmanuel Macron to clarify one’s position.

Remarks which echo those of Christian Jacob, president of the Les Républicains party, who told the newspaper The Parisian that the current situation was not not far from embezzlement of public funds.

A strategy used many times

If he does launch, as he suggests, Emmanuel Macron will not be the first president to have stretched the suspense.

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Jacques Chirac and Nicolas Sarkozy both announced in mid-February that they intended to run for a second term at the Élysée.

François Mitterrand close-up.

Former French President Francois Mitterrand.

Photo: Reuters/Charles Platiau

In 1988, François Mitterrand did not declare his candidacy until March 22, that is to say about a month before the first round of the presidential election.

According to Thomas Legrand, political columnist at France Inter, Emmanuel Macron, like his predecessors, believes that the position he holds gives him a major political advantage.

He prefers to remain the one who manageshe explains, rather than being the candidate who goes into battle in the midst of political debates which, in France, are always very tough, very frontal.

The outgoing president does not hesitate to recall the hot issues that occupy this end of mandate: management of the pandemic, tensions on the Ukrainian border and French presidency of the Council of the European Union.

Emmanuel Macron, seated at a table, looks at Vladimir Poutine who is on a screen.

French President Emmanuel Macron speaks with Russian President Vladimir Putin during a videoconference.

Photo: Getty Images / MICHEL EULER

But beware, warns Thomas Legrand, in the election campaign, the function of president also has its share of disadvantages.

Everyone unites against him and the critics fuseexplains the editorialist.

After five years in power, you have to defend your record after all. In the case of Emmanuel Macron, who presents himself as a centrist, his visit to the Élysée attracts criticism, both on the right and on the left.

Leading in the polls, Emmanuel Macron is nevertheless in a good position nearly two months before the first round of the election.

In this context, when will he confirm that he intends to put on his presidential clothes for another five years?

The suspense, which is ultimately not really one, cannot last forever. Presidential candidates have until March 4 to confirm their intention to run.

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