French President Emmanuel Macron faced a hostile reception at the opening of the Rugby World Cup on Friday evening, as the crowd booed, whistled, and jeered during his address. The jeers began as Macron stepped onto the pitch at the Stade de France in Paris and grew louder as he began his speech, rendering his words almost inaudible. This negative reaction was not confined to the stadium, as similar responses were observed in special fan zones in Paris and Marseille, where the president appeared on TV screens.
“The French people have booed King Macron! We will never leave him alone!” tweeted Manuel Bompard, a left-wing member of the National Assembly.
Macron’s popularity has significantly declined following the highly controversial pension reform implemented earlier this year. Under the reform, the retirement age would gradually increase to 67, a move that provoked widespread protests and demands for a referendum from the opposition. To pass the reform, Macron resorted to controversially using Article 49 of the French Constitution, bypassing parliamentary approval. This decision further fueled the protests and led to calls for his resignation.
“The people have not forgotten the insults and the pension reform. He had the welcome he deserved,” said Bastien Lachaud, an MP from the leftist ‘La France insoumise’ (LFI) party. Stephanie Galzy, an MP from the right-wing National Rally (RN) party, described the booing as a symbol.
The opening ceremony was followed by a match between France and New Zealand, which the French team won with a score of 27-13.
Macron’s supporters criticized the rugby fans for their angered reaction, with Mathie Lefevre, an MP from the ruling Renaissance party, stating that “to boo the president of the republic is to boo France.”
The negative reception received by Macron at the Rugby World Cup reflects the deep resentment and dissatisfaction among the French population towards his presidency. The implementation of the highly unpopular pension reform, which would force people to work longer before retiring, has been a major source of discontent. Many feel that the reform disproportionately burdens the working class and fails to address the underlying issues in the pension system.
Furthermore, Macron’s decision to bypass the parliamentary process and enforce the reform through Article 49 has sparked anger and frustration, with critics accusing him of undemocratic practices. This move has been seen as a disregard for public opinion and a failure to engage in meaningful dialogue with the concerned citizens.
The booing and hissing during Macron’s speech can be seen as a manifestation of the wider frustrations and grievances towards his presidency. The French people are demanding accountability, transparency, and policies that prioritize their well-being and interests.
It is clear that Macron’s initial popularity has steadily declined, and he now faces an uphill battle to regain the trust and support of the French population. However, it remains to be seen how he will respond to these challenges and whether he will take measures to address the concerns raised by the people.