‘Gauls, resistant to change’: Macron in hot water for ‘mocking’ the French

'Gauls, resistant to change': Macron in hot water for 'mocking' the French
Macron pokes fun at the French again. Photo: AFP
French president Emmanuel Macron's sense of humour and frank talking has once again caused uproar after he poked fun at his compatriots describing them as "Gauls who are resistant to change".

The French president was speaking during a trip to Denmark this week when he spoke of his admiration of the Danish economic model which combines both     flexibility and security (flexisécurité) when it came to jobs – in other words mixes a strong social security system with rules allowing companies to easily fire workers.

Speaking to French expatriats Macron went on to speak about the differences in the French and Danish cultures, which he believes have prevented France from following a similar model to Denmark.

“Let's not be naive,” said Macron. “What's possible is linked to a culture, a people who are the product of their history.

“These Lutheran (protestant) people (Danish) who have experienced transformations in recent years are not exactly the Gauls, who are resistant to change (Gaulois refractaires au changement),” said Macron, using a term for the ancient tribes that roamed France more than 2000 years ago.

Opposition politicians lined up to blast Macron for showing “contempt” towards the French people.

“The 'Gauls' will be happy to respond to his arrogance and contempt”, said Marine Le Pen.

Former minister for the right wing Republicains party Eric Woerth said Macron should not “complain”about his people.

Other politicians accused him of “humiliating” and “mocking” the French public.

It's not the first time Macron has had a dig at the French during a trip abroad for their apparent resistance to change. 

Last year on a trip to Romania he said the French “hated reforms”.

And then last September on a trip to Greece he said: “France is not a country which is open to reforms.”

“France does not reform … because we rebel, we resist, we circumvent. This is what we are like,” he told expatriates at a French archaeology school in Athens.
But the president hit back on Thursday, while in Finland where he is on the second leg of his Scandinavian trip.
He defended his latest rebuke of the French people's reluctance to accept reforms.
“You need to step back from the controversy and social media,” Macron told reporters, describing his remarks as “a light-hearted moment”.
“I love France and the French people, make no mistake. I love it in all of its components.”
“It's not showing contempt to say the truth,” said Macron. 
“I have always said it. I think we are a country, and I'm the first, that doesn't like change or to make permanent adjustments, but we are a country that in the most serious moments throughout history knows how to transform itself.
“Others say 'France is a difficult country to reform'. It's true. It's a country that doesn't reform.”
The 40-year-old came to power last May vowing to overhaul France and “pull the country into the 21st century”.
Macron quickly pushed through measures that his predecessors at the Elysée promised but failed to deliver, including controversial labour reforms that introduced greater flexibility to the jobs market by making it easier for employers to lay off staff.
However the reforms have hardly brought fundamental change to France's economic model.




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