France Opposition Politicians Tackle Macron
President of France, Emmanuel Macron raised criticisms from the opposition today after he described his countrymen as “Gauls who are resistant to change”during a trip to Denmark.
The comments came during an exchange with French expatriates in the Scandinavian country, which Macron has long admired because of its economic model that mixes a strong social security system with rules allowing companies to easily fire workers.
“Let’s not be naive, what is possible is linked to a culture, to a people who are the product of their history,” Macron said on Wednesday afternoon.
“These Lutheran (Protestant) people, who have experienced transformations in recent years, are not like the Gauls who are resistant to change,” he said, using a term for the ancient tribes that roamed France more than 2000 years ago.
The remark reminisced previous comments by Macron who said the French “hate reforms” and that the country is “unreformable”.
He prefers instead to talk about a “transformation” under his leadership.
“As usual, he scorns the French while overseas. The Gauls will take great pleasure in responding to his arrogance and contempt,” said far-right leader Marine Le Pen.
Leftwing MP Alexis Corbiere from the France Unbowed party denounced Macron for his “staggeringly stupid remarks”.
“Macron in Denmark is not only contemptuous of his own people but also very ignorant about the Gauls who were incredibly progressive,” he added.
But the president responded too quickly while he was in Finland where he is on the second leg of his Scandinavian trip.
“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.”
Also, he defended decisions to appoint French writer Patrick Besson as consul general in Los Angeles.
Besson, who has written some 20 novels, is a close personal friend of Macron and his wife Brigitte who penned an overwhelmingly positive book on how Macron captured the French presidency in May 2017.
“There is no cronyism in exchange for favours,” Macron said, indicating he would “continue to open up all of the top state jobs to people with talent and strengths from all walks of life.”