top cx logo
cx logo
Explorearrow down
search icon
Explore
arrow down

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

The French president attracted much attention - including internationally - when he used the words this week about unvaccinated people but it was not the first time

President Emmanuel Macron caused a stir this week when he talked about wanting to ‘piss unvaccinated people off’ Pic: Frederic Legrand - COMEO / Shutterstock

President Emmanuel Macron caused a stir this week when he vowed to continue to “piss off” unvaccinated people but it was not the first time that he had used the phrase.

He said, in an interview with Le Parisien on January 4,: “Unvaccinated people, I really want to piss them off. And so we will continue to do it until the end. That’s the strategy.” 

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

But he was using the phrase ‘piss off’ (emmerder in French) as far back as his presidential campaign in 2017. 

Read more: ‘Piss off the unvaccinated’: Not first time Macron’s words cause stir

During a visit to the Fédération nationale des chasseurs hunting federation, the then candidate assured those present that he would not ban the activity. 

“We need to let people breathe, to stop pissing French people off,” he said. “In view of the state of the country, I have plenty of other things to be doing.” 

Hunter said president used language that rural people could identify with

Commentators say that the language choice enabled Mr Macron, who has never served at local authority level but is well known for his job as a Rothschild banker, to move towards undoing preconceptions of metropolitan elitism that may have lingered in rural communities. 

At the event, a hunter from Meuse commented that he was “pleasantly surprised” by Mr Macron’s vocabulary, saying “We are all from the countryside here, we don’t live in Paris, but he knew how to talk to us. 

“He wasn’t doctrinaire but pragmatic. It was nice to hear that.” 

In 2018, having been elected president, Macron used the phrase again during a debate about French wine. 

The then Agriculture Minister Didier Guillaume had said that: “The young people that come out of nightclubs, drunk, are not drunk because they have been drinking a Côtes-du-Rhône or a Bordeaux.”

“They drink other drinks: rum mixers, stronger alcohols.”

The then Health Minister Agnès Buzyn argued back that “we should not trivialise the consumption of alcohol. Wine is an alcohol like the others.”

President Macron later commented that: “If there are young people who get drunk, they are not getting drunk on French wine. We should stop pissing French people off.”

Seven months later, amid a debate on inheritance tax, President Macron said again: “We have asked for an effort on the part of retirees, but now, stop pissing them off.” 

Philippe Moreau-Chevrolet, professor at the Sciences-Po university in Paris, told BFMTV that: “Emmanuel Macron likes the term because it’s neither one thing nor the other. On the one hand it is a fairly rude insult but on the other, it is a word often found in film and literature. 

“At the end of the day, he is a president like everyone else, as he says, by speaking like French people do.” 

By talking about ‘pissing off’ unvaccinated people, Prof Moreau-Chevrolet also argues that President Macron is no longer speaking “as a president” but “as a candidate who is looking to gain ground by attacking a part of the French population.” 

A poll organised for LCI following the president’s latest comments found that six in 10 French people asked thought he was wrong to say what he did. Unsurprisingly, while 44% of vaccinated people supported his words, only 7% of unvaccinated people felt the same. 

Related stories 

Recap: The seven key Covid rule changes that start in France today

‘I regret that I’ve hurt people with my words,’ says President Macron

Resident or second-home owner in France?
Benefit from our daily digest of headlines and how-to's to help you make the most of life in France
By joining the newsletter, you agree to our Terms & Conditions and Privacy Policy
See more popular articles
The Connexion Help Guides
featured helpguide
Income Tax in France 2022 (for 2021 income)*
Featured Help Guide
- Primarily aimed at Britons, covers pensions, rent, ISAs, shares, savings and interest - Overview of online declarations + step-by-step guide to the French printed forms - Includes updates given automatically after this year's site opened
Get news, views and information from France
You have 2 free subscriber articles left
Subscribe now to read unlimited articles and exclusive content
Already a subscriber? Log in now