Macron in Nice

Emmanuel Macron talks about security during campaign-style visit to French town hit by extremist

French President Emmanuel Macron visited the city of Nice on Monday in what could be seen as an unofficial stop to the presidential re-election campaign.

Macron was in Nice to discuss security and safety, a subject of particular importance for the Mediterranean city. In 2016, an extremist terrorist drove a cargo truck through a crowded crowd celebrating Bastille Day. The attack left 86 dead and countless injured. During his visit, Macron met with law enforcement officials and lawmakers to discuss security measures in the city and the country.

“We have invested heavily in our security forces to ensure the safety of our fellow citizens,” Macron said at a press conference. “People have the right to live in peace every day, but there is much more to be done.”

Macron has not officially confirmed whether or not he will run again. However, the visit to Nice is seen as an unofficial confirmation of a second term. Nice is often seen as a critical city for elections, as they often lean towards the conservatives and the right. The lean could be significant for centrist Macron, whose biggest presidential competitor is Republican Valérie Pécresse.

If Macron plans to run again, he should do so soon, as the French presidential election will take place on April 10.

Macron in Nice
French President Emmanuel Macron delivers a speech during a meeting with police officers as part of a visit to the former Saint-Roch hospital, future police headquarters, in Nice, south-eastern France , January 10, 2022. The visit has fueled speculation that Marcon will seek re-election.
Photo by Daniel Cole / Pool / AFP via Getty Images

Macron barely mentioned the current wave of coronavirus fueled by the rapidly spreading omicron variant. He replaced his mantra of the last few months – “vaccinate, vaccinate, vaccinate” – with a new phrase: “protect, protect, protect”.

By 2025, the Saint Roch will become a huge police center, where more than 2,000 national and municipal officers will work with cutting-edge technologies, including video surveillance. Work should start next year.

Macron’s pressure to tackle security concerns at the heart of France’s conservative political landscape appears to be an effort to counter criticism from presidential challengers, including right-wing and far-right candidates who promote a hard line on the issues. of security.

In September, Macron announced measures to make police operations more transparent, including the publication of internal investigative reports and the creation of a parliamentary oversight body, to improve public confidence eroded by the scandals. police officers.

Rights organizations have repeatedly criticized police brutality in France, particularly against members of the country’s racial, ethnic and religious minorities. Like the United States, France has witnessed protests against allegations of racism, injustice and impunity for violence by law enforcement agencies.

Macron said part of the solution is to put more police on the streets and on public transport, especially to tackle violence against women.

“This is where women are most vulnerable and we must do everything to protect them,” Macron said, promising to double the number of officers dealing with domestic violence to 4,000 in total.

He also called for more training for French police in dealing with victims of domestic violence and sexual abuse and assault, and detailed the application of a controversial law to combat Islamic radicalization.

Three women were found dead on New Years Day across France, allegedly killed by their partners, despite the Macron government’s efforts to tackle domestic killings.

In the French presidential race, Pécresse, former minister and government spokesperson, is the first woman to become the Republicans’ presidential candidate. Known as pro-European, Pécresse has hardened its positions on immigration and security in recent months to attract more right-wing voters.

Two far-right candidates – Marine Le Pen, the head of the National Rally who lost to Macron in the second round of the 2017 presidential election, and former television expert Eric Zemmour – are campaigning on anti-Islam themes and anti-migrants, accusing Macron of being soft on crime and delinquency.

On the left, the mayor of Paris Anne Hidalgo of the Socialists and the MEP Yannick Jadot of the Greens present themselves, as well as the far left leader of the Rebel France party, Jean Lue Melenchon, who is running for the presidency for the third time.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Macron in Saint-Roch
French President Emmanuel Macron leaves the former Saint-Roch hospital, which will become Nice’s new police headquarters, on January 10, 2022, as part of his visit to the French Mediterranean coast focused on internal security. Nice was hit by an extremist attack in 2016 that left 86 people dead.
Photo by Valery Hache / AFP via Getty Images

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