During French President Emmanuel Macron’s “Tour of the French territories” a PR moment backfired badly for the leftist liberal barely clinging to power when he was greeted at the crowd control barricades with a slap to the face instead of a handshake. Macron is one of the least popular leaders in Europe today, after being elected in mid-2017 he held a reasonable approval rating in the 40-50% range until January 2018. Throughout the year his approval plunged to 24%and has since never recovered sitting at about 38% now.
— Disclose.tv 🚨 (@disclosetv) June 8, 2021
While the event was taking place at Tain-l’Hermitage, Drôme in Southern France, Macron could be seen striding confidently to address the crowd, arm extended to greet the public. As Macron approached the 28 year-old man about to strike him they clasped forearms in greeting, the young man then pulled him in and slapped him across the face with his right hand. The man who struck Macron and an associate filming the attacker were both arrested but have not yet been publicly identified.
Liberal Leaders and Leftists Blame The Right
According to Breitbart the man who struck Macron could be heard saying “À bas la Macronie!” or “Down with Macronia!”. The assailant also reportedly shouted “Montjoie Saint Denis!”, described by French BFMTV as
“a royalist reference, a war cry of the Capetians for the Kingdom of France in the 12th century. It has since become a rallying sign for the far right.”
In the hours since the event, French leftists and mainstream media have been scrambling to ascribe a right-wing ideology to Macron’s attacker. However, every major political leader in France from the most liberal to the most conservative have uniformly condemned the assault including the “National Rally” party (Rassemblement national) headed by Marine Le Pen, the closest thing to a Conservative party in the country.
La Pen said in a statement to the press, (Translated)
“It is inadmissible to physically attack the President of the Republic. It is inadmissible to attack political leaders but even more so against the President of the Republic because he is the President of the Republic”. “We can fight it politically, but we cannot afford to have the slightest gesture, the slightest violence against it,” she says again.”
She later tweeted a strong condemnation as well, “While democratic debate can be bitter, it can never tolerate physical violence. I strongly condemn the intolerable physical aggression which targeted the President of the Republic. MLP #Tain”
Si le débat démocratique peut être âpre, il ne saurait en aucun cas tolérer la violence physique. Je condamne fermement l’agression physique intolérable qui a visé le président de la République. MLP #Tain
— Marine Le Pen (@MLP_officiel) June 8, 2021
The war cry “Montjoie Saint-Denis” is more closely historically connected to the French Royalist movement. Arguments over whether the man was a leftist or right-wing have dominated French twitter since the attack. Since the “yellow vest” protests that corresponded with Macron’s popularity collapse in 2018, the far-right have been the one-size-fits-all scapegoat for the French Press and leftist establishment, a phenomenon which appears to be global. However, the yellow vest or “yellowjacket” movement spanned the political spectrum as a true populist movement.
The movement was described by protestors to France24 as “More than half said they didn’t believe in the traditional left-right divide,” said Guerra. “But theirs is a rejection of partisan politics, not of politics itself, since a movement like theirs is inherently political.” It seems likely that today’s assault on Macron was also “a rejection of partisan politics, not of politics itself” and could signal the continuation of a neither liberal nor conservative movement that only simmered down due to COVID lockdowns, but never died.