Michael Barnier discusses plans for future in French politics
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According to Austrian daily DerStandard, the former Brexit negotiator for the EU might beat President Macron at the next general elections in France. The former EU chief turned 70 in January and he is believed to be eyeing a spot in the 2022 presidential elections.
His age is not considered a disadvantage but rather the key to what could be a successful election campaign against the incumbent president.
Hoping to emulate Joe Biden’s victory at the US Presidential elections in November, Mr Barnier will fight against Mr Macron with political experience, prudence and moderation.
Insiders reported that he was renting an open-plan office in Paris and setting up a micro-party for campaign donations.
At the end of January, Mr Barnier answered a journalist’s question, saying: “As long as I keep my energy and my ability to be enthusiastic and indignant, I would like to remain useful to my country.”
Parisian officials are already talking about a “Biden moment”, that is, the calm victory of a serene set man over a dazzling media star.
Mr Barnier himself has unfinished business with Macron as the French President did not want to support his eligibility for the post of EU Commission President.
The former Brexit negotiator has already succeeded with an act of small revenge as in an initial survey, he immediately received 27 percent positive votes, more than Macron secured in the election in 2017 with 24 percent or Le Pen with 21 percent.
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But according to the Austrian daily, voices in his own party, es Republicains (LR), say he is “not popular” and “not funny”.
Speaking to Express.co.uk, French MEP Philippe Olivier, who also serves as special adviser to National Rally leader Marine Le Pen, claimed Mr Barnier does not stand a chance.
He said: “Michel Barnier is not even French. He is a Europeanist, but not French.
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“He is all the more ridiculous because he thinks that maybe because he has achieved something on a European level this would qualify him to represent something for France.
“He thinks the EU can send a governor here, but he doesn’t realise French people don’t want it.
“French people showed that in 2005 when they voted against the EU constitution in a referendum.”
Mr Olivier added: “In France, presidential elections are a contract between a candidate and the people of France.
“It is a bit like voting for a Queen or a King.
“It is evident that a person who has been sent by an international organisation stands absolutely no chance.”
Ms Le Pen has recently come within reach for the first time of beating Mr Macron in next year’s election.
The Harris survey suggested that Ms Le Pen is close to breaching the “glass ceiling” of French politics.
The barrier was based on the longstanding assumption that an absolute majority of voters would never back a far-right candidate.
If the next year’s election was staged now, Ms Le Pen would have 48 percent of the vote, with Mr Macron on 52 percent, according to the poll carried out online on January 19 and 20.
Additional reporting by Monika Pallenberg
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