Macron tries to use a street song to sidestep the French pension dispute
For a president trying to convince France to accept a divisive hike in the pension age, even a customary sing-song with some young Parisians is dangerous.
When Emmanuel Macron and his wife Brigitte went for a walk on Tuesday, he had just given a TV speech admitting “no consensus could be found” on the reform.
He joined some other men in singing a song that his grandmother had taught him.
But it was distributed by a Facebook group that the far right is said to have created.
The youthful singers were a part of a Parisian choir performing old tunes on the streets of Paris’ sixth arrondissement,
One of them went up to President Macron and asked him to sing along with a traditional Pyrenean song called “Le Refuge,” which he had learned when visiting the French mountain area last year.
The men, who were members of the neighborhood Saint Longin choir, were ostensibly reading the lyrics of the song written by the Canto project using a mobile phone app.
Left-leaning publication Libération disclosed in October of last year that far-right militants had developed and were in charge of the initiative, which was created to preserve the memory of traditional melodies.
French classics and nursery rhymes were among the tunes, but there were also those with a dubious history, such as those associated with Nazi Germany and the Spanish fascist Falange of the 1930s.
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In particular, when France comes to pension reforms, President Macron and his team are very aware of how popular films can divert attention from the pressing issues at hand.
According to his entourage, the singers approached him and his wife while they were enjoying some alone time following his TV address.
Then he joined them in singing a Pyrenean song that he is familiar with and enjoys. He couldn’t have known the backgrounds of each person he was speaking to at that precise moment, a representative of the Élysée Palace was cited as saying.
Another widely shared video from last month demonstrated how his reasonably pricey watch mysteriously vanished in the middle of a TV interview.
It was a non-story because there was no proof that he was embarrassed by the lavishness of it. The fact that it was banging the table was the more evident answer. Whatever, what mattered was the story.
The Saint Longin choir is the same.
The “narrative” that the president gave the extreme right spiritual support or went out drinking when the nation was facing a pension catastrophe has taken hold.
However, the founder of the app he was reading from was associated with the National Rally opposition group, which is the only connection to the far right.
The purpose of the app is to promote group singing. It is partially supported by the ministry of culture and has many left-leaning revolutionary songs on its website, such as “Ah ça ira,” which includes the pleasant lyric “Aristocrats to the gallows!”
The choir is obviously of the Catholic right, but one of the singers, Géraud, claimed that their sole connection to the Canto project was that it had a musical catalog that they were enthusiastic about.
Additionally, as the Élysée noted, the president has little influence over who he and Brigitte Macron run into when out and about at night.
Before French President Emmanuel Macron’s visit on April 19, 2023, protesters in CFDT labor union vests join a rally against the pension law in Muttersholtz, Eastern France.
SOURCE OF IMAGE: REUTERS
These protestors demanded that the president “come and work a bit at night to see” in response to the Macron pension reforms.
The fact that a video is attached and that the president is now not in good standing give the story some credibility.
That makes it even worse when he begins the impossible effort of restoring his reputation.
The prime minister has been tasked with leading 100 days of action with a roadmap of significant initiatives “at the service of France” after he put into law the profoundly unpopular measures that raise the pension age from 62 to 64.
He might have been making his debut in public for the first time since the reforms were imposed on him during his spontaneous sing-along on the streets of Paris. But his second, scheduled for Wednesday, was to take place during the day at Muttersholtz, an Alsatian town, where he intended to officially begin his second term in office.