‘Fidel Macron’ hijacking D-Day anniversary to boost EU election hopes, opponents say

President Emmanuel Macron
President Macron will reportedly seek to depict himself as the "true heir to Charles de Gaulle" - EBRAHIM NOROOZI/AP

Emmanuel Macron has been accused of “requisitioning” D-Day with wall-to-wall media appearances in a bid to save his party from humiliation in the European elections.

Likening the French president to Cuban dictator Fidel Castro, Olivier Faure, the head of the Socialist Party, criticised Mr Macron’s plan to deliver three speeches on consecutive days.

“So on Thursday, Friday and Saturday, it will be ‘Fidel Macron’ on all the channels to commemorate and express himself without a contradiction at 8pm – in short, to campaign at a time when no one will be able to respond to him,” he said.

On Thursday, with just three days to go before the ballot for the European Parliament, Mr Macron will issue a prime-time televised address evening to mark the 80th anniversary of the Normandy landings and the push to liberate France from Nazi occupation. He is due to mention the situation in Europe, as well as Gaza and Ukraine.

Then, on Friday, he will make a speech in Bayeux in which, as France Inter radio put it, he will seek to depict himself as the “true heir to Charles de Gaulle” on the eve of a media blackout at the end of official campaigning before the elections.

He will then receive Joe Biden for the US president’s first state visit to France, with the aim of further bolstering his credentials as an international statesman.

Complaints to watchdog

The announcement of the June 6 address on France’s top TV channels, as well as the Friday speech, sparked outrage from rivals on the Left and Right, who said they would file a complaint to France’s broadcast watchdog, Arcom.

The head of the Leftist France Unbowed candidate list, Manon Aubry, confirmed on radio network RTL that her party would be taking the matter to Arcom, and demanded the length of the speech be deducted from European Macron candidate Valérie Hayer’s allotted airtime.

Eric Ciotti, head of the conservative Republicans party, said he would also be filing a complaint.

In a teaser regarding the upcoming D-Day ceremonies, Mr Macron made clear nods to the campaign, notably by saying: “2024 will go down in memory as marking the ‘renaissance’ of our nation.” Renaissance is the name of his party.

Trailing in the polls

Mr Macron is facing a drubbing in the EU ballot with the latest Ipsos poll placing Ms Hayer on 16 per cent, half the score of Marine Le Pen’s hard-Right National Rally, on 33 per cent, whose campaign leader Jordan Bardella has framed the election as a referendum on the French president.

The Macron campaign is also at risk of being overtaken by Socialist-backed ex-commentator Raphaël Glucksmann, on 14.5 per cent of voting intentions.

The survey forecast that voter turnout would fall to 47 per cent compared to 50 per cent in 2019.

According to Le Monde, there is internal debate over whether Mr Macron’s participation, even distant, in the election campaign, is a “help or handicap”. His face has been removed from campaign posters in favour of his popular prime minister, Gabriel Attal.

“Whenever we hand out a tract with Emmanuel Macron’s face on it, we get turned away with the response, ‘Oh no, not him!’,” one Parisian campaign volunteer told the newspaper.