‘Existential threat’: Macron sends stern warning to voters days ahead of European elections

French President Emmanuel Macron has warned of an "existential risk" to the EU just days ahead of elections for the European Parliament, while playing down the political risks of being personally involved in the high-stakes campaign.

'Existential threat': Macron sends stern warning to voters days ahead of European elections
Photo: AFP
“I cannot be a spectator, but a participant in what is the most important European election since 1979, because the union is facing an existential risk,” Macron said in a joint interview published in regional French papers on Tuesday.
But Macron's critics say the head of state has no business taking sides in the European contest, and supporters worry that he might be setting himself up for a fall if his party does badly.
Macron's centrist list is running neck and neck in opinion polls with the far-right National Rally of Marine Le Pen, who is hoping to hobble her rival after losing badly in the French presidential run-off two years ago.

EXPLAINED: What's at stake for France and Macron in the EU elections? Photo: AFP

Late Monday, after meeting with Portugal's Socialist premier Antonio Costa, Macron called for a “grand coalition of progressives” to combat “those who want to destroy Europe through nationalism.”
In the interview he defended his decision to plunge into the high-stakes campaign after supporters worry that he might be setting himself up for a fall if his party does badly.
He also raised eyebrows by appearing alone on an election poster last week, replacing the nominal head of his party's campaign, former Europe minister Nathalie Loiseau.
“He's acting like the head of a clan. It's not his role today,” Jordan Bardella, the head of the National Rally list for the parliament vote, said in a radio interview on Tuesday.
Macron rejected the accusation, saying Europeans were facing a vital choice on how to handle a range of challenges from migration and trade to the growing might of China and increased tensions with the United States.
“The French president isn't the head of a party, but it's normal that he be involved in these fundamental choices,” he said.
At least one paper, the Voix du Nord, boycotted the interview, since Macron's office required a jointly written version of his responses, which had to be submitted for prior approval before publication.
Photo: AFP
Abstention risks
The election is shaping up to be a showdown between pro-Europeans and eurosceptic populist parties, but opinion polls show abstentions could exceed the record high of 57 percent in 2014's parliament vote.
“Deciding not to vote means deciding to give a voice to those who would destroy Europe,” Macron said.
“But we can't make Europe advance if there's a Franco-German discord,” he said, referring to signs of a sharp dispute with Berlin in several areas.
Chancellor Angela Merkel admitted last week to “differences in mentality” with Macron and “differences in our understanding of our roles.”
Macron played down the rift, saying: “We respect each other and work very well together, but I don't believe in faked or sterile relations, that we should paper over our differences,” he said.
“If we don't say things, we won't move forward,” he said.

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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.