Defiant Macron says will follow reforms regardless of strikes

BERD’HUIS, France (Reuters) – French President Emmanuel Macron mentioned on Thursday he would follow sweeping reform plans regardless of a sequence of strikes and road protests, saying in his first TV interview in months that he was not one to control based mostly on opinion polls.

French SNCF railway staff and CGT labour union representatives, Michael Albin and Najim Abdelkader take a look at a display throughout a televison interview with French President Emmanuel Macron on French tv TF1 channel, on the prepare station in Good, France, April 12, 2018. REUTERS/Eric Gaillard

The interview with a extensively watched noon information program, held in a faculty in a small village in Normandy, appeared aimed to attraction to older, rural voters, lots of whom have expressed anger at Macron’s financial and tax reforms.

“Public opinion is just not an goal in itself, sorry to be so blunt,” Macron mentioned within the interview carried out personal community TF1. “In any other case, what do you do, every single day you examine polls on this and that factor to know what you are able to do?”

Since his election in Could final 12 months, Macron has made important modifications to France’s labor guidelines and launched into a sequence of different reforms together with to schooling, the highly-indebted rail operator SNCF, taxes and parliament.

Talking in a brightly adorned elementary faculty, with youngsters’s drawings on the wall, Macron mentioned he would perform the reforms, together with to state-run SNCF, which has provoked a sequence of debilitating strikes, “till the tip.”

“I’m asking you to belief me, if I’ve proven one factor over the previous 12 months it’s that I do what I mentioned I might do,” he mentioned.

Addressing pensioners, most of whom voted for him final 12 months however whom opinion polls present are rising way more crucial, primarily as a result of their pensions have been hit by a tax hike, Macron mentioned: “I’ve requested the pensioners to make an effort … and I inform them ‘thanks’”.

The 40-year-old president, a former funding banker and financial system minister, went into element on the tax reform, explaining that the poorest pensioners weren’t hit by the tax hike and had as an alternative obtained a subsidy enhance this month.

Requested what he considered the “president of the wealthy” tag he has been labeled with by opponents on the left, Macron pointed to selections together with the discount of a housing tax.

“I’m the president of all of the French folks. The wealthy don’t want a president, they’re doing fairly properly by themselves,” he mentioned.

Macron mentioned a hospital reform that has angered docs and nurses was needed as was the overhaul of the SNCF, which gives lots of its staff with “job-for-life” ensures and has run up money owed of greater than 46 billion euros.

He mentioned the French state would progressively assume a part of the SNCF’s debt, however solely as reforms are agreed and applied and the operator turns into extra worthwhile.

As he approaches his first anniversary in workplace — he received the election on Could 7, 2017 — Macron is giving a sequence of interviews, having largely stored the media at arm’s size.

On Sunday he will likely be interviewed by two journalists recognized for his or her combative model, with the dialogue to be broadcast by two TV stations and a radio station.

Further reporting by Michel Rose; Writing by Ingrid Melander; Enhancing by Luke Baker

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