Five things we learned from Macron and Le Pen’s Sunday interviews

French President Emmanuel Macron and his most likely challenger, Marine Le Pen, both gave television interviews on Sunday with just over two weeks to go until the election. We watched it so that you didn't have to.

French President Emmanuel Macron and his main rival, Marine Le Pen, both gave TV interviews on Sunday.
French President Emmanuel Macron and his main rival, Marine Le Pen, both gave TV interviews on Sunday. Here's what you need to know. (Photo by LUDOVIC MARIN / AFP)

French President Emmanuel Macron and his chief rival going into April’s election, far-right candidate Marine Le Pen, were invited for interviews on France 3 on Sunday. 

Here is what we learned from their appearances: 

Macron has been busy 

Challenged by the journalist for not having taken part in a real presidential debate with other candidates, Emmanuel Macron said he had been busy. 

He pointed towards the “historic” fuel rebate, EU and NATO negotiations, and a succession of phone calls to Russian President Vladimir Putin. 

“All of that takes preparation. It takes work. A President needs to be giving it his all,” he said. 

Polls suggest that the first round of the French presidential election could see record levels of abstentionism – which according to some analysts and voters is because people have the impression that there is no real debate. 

“If we want to have a strong democracy, go and vote,” insisted Macron. 

Earlier in the day, on of his ministers told FranceInfo that the real democratic debate would take place in between the two rounds. 

Le Pen wants to tap into the cost of living crisis

“The French deserve more than the sacking of society, alienation from politics and seeing their purchasing power decrease year after year,” said Le Pen during her interview. 

Most serious economic studies actually suggest that purchasing power for the vast majority of the population has actually increased under Macron’s presidency – even if it remains a top priority for voters. 

Le Pen proposed cutting VAT on all energy sources. She said she would finance such a move by cracking down on fraud and immigration – and estimates that the average French person would be €150-200 richer by the end of the month. 

Reforming pensions not a priority for Macron 

Macron batted away claims that reforming pensions, by lifting the retirement age to 65 and raising minimum pension payments to €1,100 per month, was his number one priority. 

He said that his efforts would be poured into reforming the education system through massive investment and consultations with teachers — and reforming the health system. 

Macron’s previous efforts to reform pensions were met with mass protests in France. He is perhaps aware that it is not one of his most popular policies – although he remains committed to the principle. 

He said it would not be possible to have “social justice” without raising the retirement age – because currently the burden that older people pose on younger ones in France is increasing. 

Le Pen is not popular Guadeloupe’s nationalists

Le Pen is currently on the campaign trail in Guadeloupe. 

Her interview was cut short after she was attacked by a pro-independence group on the Caribbean island who grabbed her microphone, leading security to step in. 

“I find it unacceptable that the ideas of the far-right can spread around like they are at Club Med. This land, I remind you, is a land of slavery, a land of victims of the ideological ancestors of Marine Le Pen,” said Ronald Selbonne of the Alyans Nasyonal Gwadloup. 

Le Pen plans to continue the rest of her visit on the island as scheduled.

During the EU elections of 2019, Le Pen’s party finished top there. 

Macron condemned the events. 

“It shocks me. Political violence is intolerable,” he said. 

Le Pen had something nice to say about Macron

Asked for her opinion on US President Joe Biden calling his Russian counterpart a “butcher”, Le Pen said she was disappointed. 

“Obviously he is putting oil on the fire,” she said. 

“We need deescalation. The last speech from Biden where he said he wanted a regime change in Russia will not contribute to appeasement. The aim is to achieve peace.”

Le Pen’s next words came as a bit of surprise. 

“The fact that the French President did not enter into this escalation of words seems positive to me,” she said. 

Was that… was that a compliment? 

Member comments

Log in here to leave a comment.
Become a Member to leave a comment.


France proposes getting rid of penalties for ‘minor’ speeding offences

The French government is considering changing speeding laws so that drivers will not lose points on their licence if they are caught going just a few kilometres over the speed limit.

France proposes getting rid of penalties for 'minor' speeding offences

France’s Interior Ministry is considering changing its current rules for minor speeding violations – proposing getting rid of the penalty for drivers who only violate the rule by going just a few kilometres over the speed limit.

The Ministry has not laid out a timeline for when this could come into effect, but they said they are currently in the preliminary stages of studying how the change could be carried out.

“The fine of course remains,” said the Interior Ministry to French daily Le Parisien.

That is to say you can still be fined for going five kilometres over the speed limit, but there might not be any more lost points for driving a couple kilometres over the posted limit. 

READ ALSO These are the offences that can cost you points on your driving licence

Of the 13 million speeding tickets issued each year in France, 58 percent are for speeding violations of less than 5 km per hour over the limit, with many coming from automated radar machines.

How does the current rule work?

The rule itself is already a bit flexible, depending on where the speeding violation occurs.

If the violation happens in an urban area or low-speed zone (under 50 km per hour limit), then it is considered a 4th class offence, which involves a fixed fine of €135. Drivers can also lose a point on their licences as a penalty for this offence. 

Whereas, on highways and high-speed roads, the consequences of speeding by 5 km per hour are less severe. The offence is only considered 3rd class, which means the fixed fine is €68. There is still the possibility of losing a point on your licence, however. 

How do people feel about this?

Pierre Chasseray, a representative from the organisation “40 Millions d’Automobilistes,” thinks the government should do away with all penalties for minor speeding offences, including fines. He told French daily Le Parisien that this is only a “first step.”

Meanwhile, others are concerned that the move to get rid of points-deductions could end up encouraging people to speed, as they’ll think there is no longer any consequence.

To avoid being accused of carelessness, France’s Interior Ministry is also promising to become “firmer” with regards to people who use other people’s licences in order to get out of losing points – say by sending their spouse’s or grandmother’s instead of their own after being caught speeding. The Interior Ministry plans to digitalise license and registration in an effort to combat this. 

Ultimately, if you are worried about running out of points on your licence, there are still ways to recover them.

You can recover your points after six months of driving without committing any other offences, and there are also awareness training courses that allow you to gain your points back. It should be noted, however, that these trainings typically cost between €150 and €250, and they do not allow you to regain more than four points.