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HomeGeopolitical CompassEurope, Russia, OceaniaMacron’s Vulgarity Is a Big Deal

Macron’s Vulgarity Is a Big Deal

Author: Robert Zaretsky

Affiliation: University of Houston (Houston, Texas, USA)

Organization/Publisher: Foreign Policy

Date/Place: January 17, 2022/USA

Type of Literature: Analysis

Word Count: 2693



Keywords: Macron, Unvaccinated, Piss off, Pompidou, and COVID-19


Macron and several readers were interviewed by the daily newspaper Le Parisien (owned by LVMH, Louis Vuitton) on January 4. Inevitably, the exchange which lasted more than two hours and took place in the Elysée, shifted to the government’s response to the omicron-variant coronavirus wave sweeping through France. One participant, an emergency room nurse, expressed her frustration with the influx of unvaccinated COVID-19 patients at her hospital.  Macron began his account of his policy toward the unvaccinated by nodding his head in agreement. He stated that the situation had deteriorated to the point where the government was forced to impose a nationwide vaccine pass. In recent months, those with proof of vaccination or a negative test have been able to enter restaurants, bars, cultural venues, and long-distance public transportation with a health pass. Beginning Jan. 15, however, access to those public sites will be restricted to those who are fully vaccinated against COVID-19. Macron had strong words for the roughly 8% of adults in France who are still unvaccinated: “Normally, I am not present to emmerde the French. Indeed, those who are not vaccinated, I have a strong desire to emborder.” Most English-language news organizations translated this as “I am not here to piss off the French…. But the unvaccinated, I really want to piss off.” There are precedents for the use of the term by presidents. Macron’s defenders referred to a well-known remark made by then-Prime Minister Georges Pompidou in 1966. When a young assistant Jacques Chirac, who would go on to become President three decades later, handed him a stack of legislation to sign, Pompidou exploded: “But stop blaming the French!” “Stop causing the French inconvenience already! This country has far too many laws, far too many texts, and far too many regulations!” Finally, it appears as though Macron is not only cursing but also betting that his use of emmerder will secure him a second term. Macron may well win this bet, with nearly 80% of En Marche! voters and more than 40% of conservative and Socialist voters favoring his language on vaccine policy. If that is the case, his critics fear that it will be a portent for French democracy.

By: Maryam Khan, CIGA Research Associate



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