Macron the wimp! French president accused of ducking key debate with rival

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With an election due in April in which President Macron is expected to run, his rivals are stepping up their criticism. Left-wing candidate Jean-Luc Mélenchon has this week accused the French leader of “creating a mess” and acting against the principles of democracy, of which fair debate is part.

Mr Mélenchon, speaking with presenter Cyril Hanouna on France’s C8 channel, said he had offered Mr Macron a debate, particularly on foreign policy, and that he declined.

He claimed: “Emmanuel Macron has always refused! And this, while his policy in Africa is catastrophic!”

Mr Mélenchon added: “Macron has created a mess in this country and nobody will be able to hold him accountable!”

In an interview with Presennza earlier this month, Mr Mélenchon said he wanted the France “built by Macron” to go “extinct”.

He was asked: “That you want to do away with the state in its present form does not shock me (…) Let’s take ecological planning. How do you want to undertake it without a state?”

To which he replied: “I believe that ecological planning and its objectives must come from municipalities, trade unions, cooperatives and even business organisations, since we are creating a mixed economy, not a fully socialised one.

“Of course, the National Assembly will also have a role to play in the process. But not as the techno-structure that imposes everything.

“I am in favour of the extinction of this particular form of state. And even more so of the State built by Macron: it is the worst version of the State.

“It is atrophied in its sovereign functions and, moreover, denies its specificity by entrusting the management of central administrations to executives from the private sector.”

Mr Mélenchon, from La France Insoumise, on Thursday, defended his electoral programme, in which he proposes 20 measures of change. One he put particular emphasis on is the cancellation of the debt held by the European Central Bank.

He said: “Most of the public debt of the Eurozone belongs to the European Central Bank.

“We must freeze these securities because this debt will never be repaid and it prevents us from making the investments we need.”

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Mr Mélenchon also aims to tackle a disputed subject – pension. He said: “We created the labour code and reduced working time in the day and in the year, then in life. This increased life expectancy, which is declining today.

“You have to go back to retirement at 60.”

Among his priorities is also an end to factory farms. He claimed: “I will ban farms where you have thousands of animals locked up that never see the light of day.

“These farms are sources of pandemics.”

Ambitiously, the 70-year-old candidate also has plans to redraft France’s Constitution, about which he said: “When the 1958 Constitution was made, France was a rural country, women were not allowed to have a chequebook, the level of education was not the same.

“Our country has changed. We need to revamp the Constitution.”

Additional reporting by Maria Ortega

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