Tue, Jan 02, 2018 - Page 6 News List

Macron vows to launch ‘renaissance’ this year

AFP, PARIS

French President Emmanuel Macron vowed to pursue his reform agenda with the “same intensity” this year and kick-start a “French renaissance” in his first New Year’s address as leader, which comes as the economy picks up.

Despite winning May last year’s presidential election on a promise to ditch politics, Macron stuck with tradition in Sunday’s televised address from the Elysee Palace, which began and ended with the French national anthem.

Seated at his desk, wearing a dark suit and tie, Macron cited some of his achievements in his first seven months in his office, including his overhaul of the labor code.

“These profound transformations ... will continue with the same strength, the same rhythm and the same intensity in 2018,” the 40-year-old centrist said, promising to “continue to do that for which you elected me.”

However, the former investment banker, who has been labeled the “president of the rich” by the leftist opposition, also attempted to reach out to those who feel left behind by his pro-business policies.

Sitting in front of a wall-hanging marked “fraternity” Macron said: “I believe in success, but what good is success if only a few succeed, feeding into selfishness and cynicism?”

Announcing a “grand social project” this year that would cover the health sector and housing for the homeless among other areas, he also extolled the virtues of work as a way of “helping everyone find their place” in society.

Lamenting the “irreconcilable divisions that are corroding our country,” he appealed to French to not reason solely in terms of what the traditionally protectionist French state could do for them.

“Ask yourselves every morning what you can do for the country,” he urged, echoing former US president John F. Kennedy’s inaugural speech in 1961, in which he told Americans: “Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country.”

That “conquering French spirit” would help breathe life into a “French renaissance,” Macron said.

He also pledged to continue to work with Germany to reform the EU, saying that “Europe is good for France.”

France’s youngest-ever president enters the year on a high note, with polls showing voters warming to him again after having soured on him in his first months in office.

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