Macron ‘in no rush’ to make French election declaration: spokesman

France's President Emmanuel Macron plans to wait before officially declaring he will seek a second term in April elections, with Ukraine and Covid still high on the agenda, the government spokesman said on Tuesday.

Macron 'in no rush' to make French election declaration: spokesman
Emmanuel Macron is apparently still mulling his presidential bid. Photo: Ludovic Marin/AFP

This week’s presidential schedule, released on Monday, sparked speculation that Macron might announce his candidacy on Thursday or Friday when no formal events have been planned, but spokesman Gabriel Attal ruled it out.

“There are a lot of events at the moment that require his full attention… and do not give him much scope to express himself as a campaigner,” Attal told Franceinfo, replying “no” when asked if it was time for Macron to formalise his bid.

Attal said Macron was holding intense daily talks with world leaders on the crisis between Russia and Ukraine, as well as working with the government on removing Covid-19 restrictions while cases remained high.

“The French wouldn’t understand if these days the president were to express himself on his election campaign,” he said.

Candidates can now begin the formal process of parrainage – obtaining the required 500 endorsements from local officials that are necessary to secure a place on the ballot paper. The deadline to have obtained these is March 4th.

Calendar: The 2022 French presidential election

Macron’s rivals have accused him of deliberately delaying the announcement so as to take advantage of his office to make media appearances and defend his record without being seen as candidate.

But Attal denied this.

“I don’t think it’s an advantage for us, quite the opposite. Maybe it’s a handicap not to be able to be in the campaign right now while the opposition is,” he added.

OPINION: Macron might not admit it, but he’s on the campaign trail

France also holds the rotating presidency of the European Union, with Macron keen to use the time to press his agenda for boosting the military and diplomatic clout of the 27-member bloc.

Aides to Macron, 44, who is widely tipped to win a second term, have also argued against an announcement in the short term.

“There’s a window of opportunity for him to declare his candidacy between February 10th and 20th,” one presidential aide told AFP on condition of anonymity.

“The health crisis needs to be behind us and we need to be neither in an international crisis nor on the threshold of a major EU event,” the aide said.

A new poll out on Monday by the Ifop-Fidicial survey group suggested that Macron would win the first round of the presidential election on April with 24 percent of the vote.

Far-right leader Marine Le Pen and conservative Valérie Pécresse from the centre-right Les Républicains party are seen as competing for the other spot in the second-round run-off scheduled for April 24th.

In the second-round run-off, Macron was projected to beat Le Pen by a margin of 55-45 percent, or Pecresse by 54-46 percent.

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Students blockade Paris schools in election protest

Students blockaded five schools in Paris on Tuesday to demonstrate their political concerns ahead of the second round of the Presidential elections on Sunday.

Students blockade Paris schools in election protest

In addition to the five blockaded lycées, the université Paris 8 in Saint-Denis was closed “for security reasons”.

The students – who are too young to make their voices heard at the ballot box – were protesting against the options available to voters in the second round – where incumbent Emmanuel Macron takes on far-right leader Marine Le Pen – and follows earlier student protests at the Sorbonne.

Many were demonstrating in protest at what they saw as inadequate policies on climate change and social issues from both candidates in the final round of voting, as well as the lack of choice for the electorate.

“It is a continuation of what happened at the Sorbonne,” one student told AFP. “We want a third social round, because the two candidates qualified for the second round have no social or ecological programmes. 

“We want to give a new breath to this Fifth Republic a little at the end of the race.

“We are fed up with the fascist state. We are here against Marine Le Pen, against fascism, for the climate and against capitalism,” another student at the lycée Louis-le-Grand in the capital’s fifth arrondissement said.

“We have blocked all the entrances. We will stay there as long as possible.”

About 100 students blockaded the prestigious school. Some students chant slogans against the “Front National” – the former name of second-round candidate Marine Le Pen’s far-right Rassemblement National party.

The blockades ended peacefully at the end of the day.