French billionaire accuses Macron of not understanding ‘little people’

One of France's richest men Francois Pinault faced a backlash on Saturday for accusing President Emmanuel Macron of "not understanding little people".

French billionaire accuses Macron of not understanding 'little people'
Francois Pinault's comments were panned by Macron supporters. Photo: LOIC VENANCE / AFP
“I am afraid that he is leading France towards a system that forgets the most modest,” the French billionaire and luxury goods mogul told M du Monde magazine on Friday. 
Macron, who has been dubbed a “president of the rich” by his detractors, was criticised this week for unveiling plans for a swimming pool at his private presidential retreat. 
Pinault was said to be close to former president Jacques Chirac, prosecuted in 2011 for embezzlement during his time as mayor of Paris, and voted for the Socialist Francois Hollande in the 2012 presidential election.
Defending Macron, government spokesman Benjamin Grivaux told Radio 1: “From someone who for a long time did not pay taxes, I'm not sure he himself understands the little people.”
MP Richard Ferrand from Macron's La Republique en Marche party, added that Pinault's comments were “surreal,” quipping on Twitter that “only billionaires can understand others”. 
In 2002, Pinault settled a dispute with the tax authorities, paying out 450 million euros, after sharing his business group with his children. The year before he handed the reins of his empire — which includes the Gucci, Yves Saint Laurent, Puma and Balenciaga brands — to his son Francois-Henri, who is married to Hollywood star Salma Hayek.
Since then the businessman, who also owns the auction house Christie's, has mostly dedicated himself to his art collection.


Macron to make live TV broadcast to France

French president Emmanuel Macron will make a live TV broadcast to the nation about the war in Ukraine.

Macron to make live TV broadcast to France

Macron will be on TV on Wednesday at 8pm, the Elysée confirmed earlier on Wednesday.

Macron also tweeted the announcement, saying that his speech will be on the subject of the war in Ukraine.

His office added that the president’s speech “will not touch on other matters” – Macron has only until Friday to confirm whether or not he is running for re-election.

It is widely considered to be extremely unlikely that he would not stand in the April elections, but all candidates have until Friday, March 4th, to make their declaration.

Macron’s team had previously announced a rally in Marseille on Saturday, March 5th, which was expected to be the first official campaign event, but on Tuesday this was cancelled because of the ongoing international crisis.

Macron was at the forefront of international efforts to find a diplomatic resolution to the crisis, and since Russia invaded Ukraine he has remained in close contact with Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky, and has also spoken – at the request of Zelensky – to Russian premier Vladimir Putin.

The Local will be following Macron’s speech live from 8pm HERE.