A man punched Emmanuel Macron in the face on Tuesday and briefly interrupted a walk during the French president’s tour of the provinces ahead of this month’s regional elections.
Two 28-year-old men were questioned by the gendarmerie after the audible blow – accompanied by a cry of the royalist slogan “Montjoie Saint-Denis!” and “Down with Macronism!” – was delivered by a man from a group of spectators in the southern city of Tain-l’Hermitage.
Macron’s Elysée Palace said a man had “tried to punch” the president, talks and handshakes with the crowd resumed immediately after the incident and the visit continued.
Opposition parties have been fiercely critical of Macron’s “Tour de France” ahead of the June 20 and 27 regional elections, arguing that he used his presidential status to promote his La République en Marche party without being subject to campaign finance limits.
His supporters have argued that he just wants to take the “pulse beat” of the French people to find out what he can achieve in the final year of his presidential mandate, which was first signed by the anti-government government. yellow vest protests of 2018 and then by the Covid-19 pandemic.
But Marine Le Pen, leader of the far-right Rassemblement National party and the politician expected to be his main rival in next year’s presidential election, asked: “Is there a person in France who has not understood that Emmanuel Macron is taking advantage of his position as president to campaign for the regional elections?”
On Tuesday, however, politicians from across the spectrum gathered to condemn the act of violence against Macron.
Le Pen said the “behavior was unacceptable and should be thoroughly condemned in a democracy”, while Jean-Luc Mélenchon of the far-left La France Insoumise (France Unbowed) party, normally a fierce critic of Macron, said he expressed solidarity with the president.
Shortly before the incident, Macron called for political calm. He responded to Mélenchon’s prediction that there would be a staged “murder or serious incident” to demonize Muslims in the final week of the presidential election campaign next year, and to the subsequent posting by a right winger of a video showing the simulated murder can be seen. of a supporter of Mélenchon.
“Opposition parties can express themselves freely in a democracy,” Macron said on Tuesday, “but the other side of that is an end to violence and hatred”. . . The French need something else, they are tired of the crisis and the bad news.”
Although Macron is sometimes accused by his opponents of being arrogant and out of touch, he enjoys traveling around and arguing or chatting with bystanders when he travels around the country. He is notorious among his critics for telling a gardener visiting the Elysée at a cultural open day who complained about the lack of work that he could find him a job in a restaurant or hotel just by crossing the road. .
Macron is not the first French president to be the target of violence in a public place. Nicolas Sarkozy was sometimes mistreated and mistreated once. And during the national party parade in July 2002, a far-right activist tried to shoot Jacques Chirac with a .22 rifle, but he missed and was later jailed.