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Macron: ‘I talked about pissing off the unvaccinated with affection’

The French president justified his use of the phrase when confronted by a member of the public. He has also expressed flexibility with regards to pension reforms

President Emmanuel Macron has said that his comments on ‘pissing off the unvaccinated’ were uttered ‘in an affectionate manner’ Pic: 360b / Shutterstock

President-candidate Emmanuel Macron has said that when he stated: “The unvaccinated, I really want to piss them off,” in January, it was with “affection.” 

Read more: Why Emmanuel Macron has often talked about ‘pissing people off’

President Macron justified his words during a second round campaign visit to Denain (Nord) yesterday (April 11), when he was confronted by a local resident on the subject. 

Read more: Macron - Le Pen in second round: How did your area of France vote?

Read more: What happens now in the French election, will there be a TV debate?

“I said it as if in inverted commas, in an affectionate manner,” he said. 

“When someone tells me ‘I am pissing you off’, I don’t take kindly to them,” the resident replied. 

“It was not an insult, it was in a certain context,” Mr Macron assured.

The president had said the controversial phrase while Parliament debated the government’s vaccine pass bill. “When my liberty threatens that of other people, I become irresponsible. An irresponsible person is not a citizen,” he had also said.

His words were met with indignation from politicians and members of the public, with rival presidential candidate Marine Le Pen arguing: “Emmanuel Macron is unworthy of his office,” and Les Républicains’ Valérie Pécresse calling for an end to the president’s “quinquennat (five-year term) of contempt.”  

Macron prepared to ‘move’ on pension reforms 

During yesterday’s campaign visit, which also covered Pas-de-Calais, President Macron also said that he was prepared to “move” with regards to pension reforms and “open the door” to establishing a retirement age of 64 rather than 65. 

Although he had initially said that the pension age would be put up from 62 to 65 if he were reelected, the president added that if this caused “too many tensions” and if settling on 64 could “build a consensus,” he would consider it.

Read more: Retirement at 65 (not 62) and €1,100 monthly pension: Macron’s plans

France currently has one of the lowest retirement ages in Europe. Workers in countries including Belgium, Austria, Germany, Finland, Sweden, Spain, Luxembourg, Romania and Hungary must all reach at least the age of 65 before they can claim a pension.

Only in Belarus, Slovakia, Ukraine, Malta, Russia and France is the pension age 62 or lower. 

Earlier in the day, Mr Macron had also said: “I want to do two things: index retirement pensions on inflation from July 1 and bring the minimum pension up to €1,100 per month. It is currently €900.”

Asked whether he would take this issue to a referendum, he responded: “I am not excluding a referendum, for whichever reform it may concern,” adding that “I do not want to divide the country in two.” 

Related articles 

Macron - Le Pen: What do they each pledge to change if elected?

French inheritance tax: How Macron and Le Pen plan changes

Emmanuel Macron admits he wants to ‘piss off’ the non-vaccinated

‘Election has become a question of everyday people versus elites’

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