Emmanuel Macron’s father made a rare public show of support to his “brave” son, calling the French a “very ungrateful” bunch as the incumbent struggles to defend his record ahead of Sunday’s runoff against Marine Le Pen.
Virtually unknown to the French public, Jean-Michel Macron, 72, broke his silence on Tuesday to tell regional papers L’Alsace and L’Est Républicain that he approved of “90 per cent” of what his 44-year old son had done for the country over the past five years.
“One is never 100 per cent in agreement. I’m not a member of a sect,” he said.
Speaking from his home in Amiens where Mr Macron was brought up, the neurologist said: “I have great admiration for the way he currently runs the country.”
“I think you need a lot of courage and the French are very ungrateful, which is not new,” he said.
He praised his handling of the Covid crisis and war in Ukraine, claiming “not many European leaders have done what he has done”.
Asked whether he was afraid that Ms Le Pen could beat his son this time, he said “no, not scared but there is always a risk”. I’m less stressed than five years ago.
Two polls on Tuesday suggested that Mr Macron was widening his predicted lead in the April 24 runoff, predicting a score of 56-56.5 per cent, but given the high number of undecided voters and abstentions, supporters have warned against complacency.
“The game isn’t over yet and we certainly can’t draw conclusions … that this election, this match, is already decided,” prime minister Jean Castex told France Inter radio.
The rare interview came as the two finalists prepared for a crunch presidential debate on Wednesday night that analysts say could prove decisive. Last time, Ms Le Pen collapsed but she insists she is far better prepared after sparring with an “Enarque” with a near-identical education and background to her rival.
While very close to his late grandmother, Mr Macron is said to be distant from both his parents, who are separated, reportedly speaking to them three or four times a year. His father said the last time his son paid a visit was in 2019.
It has been widely reported that they sent their son to Paris to finish his studies because they disapproved of his relationship with Brigitte, his then drama teacher and now wife, whom he met aged 16. She is 24 years his senior.
However, the father laid to rest such claims, calling them “fairy stories”, insisting the plan had always been for him to go to Henri IV, France’s top secondary school.
“Simply, it was perhaps a little early. But, well what followed has shown that it was something solid,” he said of France’s first couple, who have been an item for 28 years.