© Reuters. French President Emmanuel Macron, candidate for his re-election, meets with supporters during his first campaign day trip after coming first in the first round of the 2022 French presidential election, in Carvin, France, April 11, 2022. REUTERS/Benoit Tes
PARIS (Reuters) -President Emmanuel Macron is “back-pedalling” in his offer to soften his planned pension reform to seduce voters but would still execute his plans if re-elected, the head of France’s far-right Rassemblement National party Jordan Bardella said on Tuesday.
Campaigning in France’s former industrial heartland, Macron on Monday said he was prepared to readjust his planned pension reform, which is at the core of his programme for re-election.
“I am ready to change the timeline and say we don’t necessarily have to do a reform by 2030 if I feel that people are too anxious”, Macron said, adding that he was also prepared to “open the door” on pushing the pension aged to 64 rather to 65, his current proposal.
“He probably realises that it is a brutal and unheard-of social policy”, Bardella, an ally of presidential candidate Marine Le Pen, told France 2 television, adding he still believed Macron would go on to push up the retirement age to 65.
French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire, an ally of Macron, told broadcaster CNews that Macron had not changed his plans on the pensions reform and is still “totally determined” to carry out the reform.
“We will stick to (the minimum age of) 65, but there will be options for discussing details,” said Le Maire.
Manuel Bompard, the head of the campaign of far-left candidate Jean-Luc Melenchon, who came in third in the first round, he did not agree with Macron’s or Le Pen’s retirement proposals.
“I tell Macron this: If he really wants to appeal to our voters… he has to make a clear commitment,” he said.
Speaking on Public Senat television, Bompard pointed to the possibility mentioned by Macron of carrying out a national referendum on the minimum pension age.
An Ipsos-Sopra Steria poll cited by Public Senat said 23% of Melenchon voters would now support Macron, 15% Le Pen and a further 62% did not take a position.
Macron and Le Pen traded blows on Monday as they seek to appeal to left-leaning voters who now face the tough decision whether to give their vote to a far-right populist or to a liberal many opponents branded a “president of the rich”.