Friday, August 17, 2018

© Reuters. French President Emmanuel Macron arrives for a meeting with the President of the CFTC union, Philippe Louis at the Elysee Palace in Paris© Reuters. French President Emmanuel Macron arrives for a meeting with the President of the CFTC union, Philippe Louis at the Elysee Palace in Paris

BERLIN (Reuters) – French President Emmanuel Macron, accused by critics of being out of touch with ordinary people, denied in an interview with a German magazine he was aloof, saying that he was merely trying to stamp out cronyism between politicians and the media.

The 39-year-old former banker was caught on video earlier this month saying during a visit to a struggling company that workers protesting his economic policies would do better to get a job in a nearby aluminum factory battling to find employees.

That prompted the far-left and far-right, who have sought to cast Macron as out of touch with the common man and a president for the rich, to say he had shown “contempt”.

But Macron told Germany’s Der Spiegel: “I am not aloof. When I travel through the country, when I visit a factory, my staff tell me after three hours that I am ruining the schedule.”

He added: “When I am with French people, I am not aloof because I belong to them.”

Macron said being surrounded by journalists was not akin with being close to the people, adding: “A president should keep the media at arm’s length.”

He has said he planned a “Jupiterian” presidency – dignified and weighing his pronouncements carefully – a departure from his often-mocked predecessor Francois Hollande’s man-of-the-people style.

Macron said on Friday in a surprise move that he would give his first long live TV interview on Sunday evening.

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