Emmanuel Macron’s strategy of outbursts is ploy to woo voters ahead of presidential election

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For a better glimpse at Mr Macron’s thought process you have to go back to his election in 2017, which was won on a pro-European platform, says Mr de Weck. 

“His election happened against a backdrop of Trump and Brexit. For the EU it was an existential crisis. Populists were on the rise and France has always had an ambiguous relationship with the EU. His victory gave the EU a new lease of life”.
 
Mr Macron’s victory was lauded in German news magazine Der Spiegel as having “stabilised” the EU, and Mr Macron’s support, principally among pro-European liberals, has stood solid at around 24 or 25 per cent ever since. 

While a minority, this could be enough to get Mr Macron into the second round in April’s presidential elections, where he is expected to face a more divisive Right-wing candidate.
 
Falling out with Britain over both the management of migrants and fishing licences is in this light simply an attempt to draw in other EU nations and show Mr Macron as the bloc’s undisputed leader in times of crisis.
 
Indeed, in the fishing row, Paris has applied as much pressure in Brussels as in London. “Bilaterally with the UK, Macron doesn’t have enough leverage”, says de Weck. “That’s why he wants it to be a European issue”.
 
By standing up for French fishermen in the Channel standoff, Mr Macron will also head off any accusations during the election campaign that he is not willing to defend France’s interests, says Pierre-Emmanuel Thomann, lecturer on politics and director of the Eurocontinent think-tank. 

“His opponents will say ‘look at the UK, it’s now a sovereign nation and can do what it wants’. As the symbolic pro-European and believer in open borders, Macron will have to show that the EU is still working”.

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