French President Emmanuel Macron has called France’s 5 million-strong population of unvaccinated “non-citizens” and revealed his strategy in dealing with them is to “piss them off” in remarks strongly condemned by opposition rivals.
In an interview with French newspaper Le Parisien published on Tuesday, Macron refused to support mandatory vaccination against Covid-19, but insisted he would continue to “piss off” those who remain unvaccinated through draconian and discriminatory social restrictions.
“I won’t send [the unvaccinated] to prison, I won’t vaccinate by force,” Macron told the news outlet. “There is a tiny minority of people who are resistant. We can reduce that, I’m sorry to say, by pissing them off even more.”
“So we need to tell them, from Jan. 15, you won’t be able to go to the restaurant anymore, you won’t be able to down one, won’t be able to have a coffee, go to the theatre, the cinema…”
The specific expression used by Macron, “emmerder”, is a slang term deriving from the French word for shit, “merde”. It can also be translated as “to get on their nerves” however its use is considered to be “very informal” according to French dictionary Larousse, cited by Reuters.
Macron — who indicated during the interview that he was inclined to run again for the French presidency later this year, but had not confirmed his candidacy — was chastised by those who wish to replace him in April’s election.
His closest rival, the nationalist firebrand Marine Le Pen took to Twitter to condemn Macron’s remarks.
“This vulgarity and this violence of the President of the Republic prove that he never considered himself the president of all French people. It is a political fault but also a serious moral fault!” Le Pen tweeted.
“Do you think insulting people will convince them to get vaccinated?” Green party candidate Yannick Jadot asked the French president, whilst Valérie Pécresse, the Les Républicains candidate expressed her “outrage” at Macron’s comments intended to “humiliate the unvaccinated”.
“The outgoing President, he speaks openly of pissing off a category of French,” tweeted right-wing presidential candidate Éric Zemmour. “President, I will stop pissing off the French.”
The first round of the French presidential election will take place on April. 10, with any necessary runoff between the top two candidates being held two weeks’ later on April. 24.