Monday, January 17

“Piss off the unvaccinated”: Emmanuel Macron “used a populist technique”, according to a specialist in political communication

Emmanuel Macron hit the headlines by declaring, in an interview with Le Parisien, published Tuesday, January 4 in the evening, wanting to “piss off to the end” the unvaccinated French. But if these remarks immediately triggered a veritable whirlwind of reactions, they would be far from being an uncontrolled slippage.

Solicited by CNEWS, Philippe Moreau-Chevrolet, political communication specialist, associate professor at Sciences Po, and president of MCBG Conseil, deciphered this shocking sentence from the Head of State, which, according to him, is thus part of a strategy assumed policy.

A calculated exit, therefore, but made however at a relatively high price. In particular, this week, it led to a new suspension of the examination of the text on the vaccination pass at the National Assembly.

However, if the castigations have multiplied in the political class, public opinion has been more divided. According to a CSA exclusive survey for CNEWS, published this Wednesday, 53% of French people felt that the Head of State had, with this sentence, wrong to pronounce it.

Did Emmanuel Macron shoot himself in the foot with this outing?

Philippe Moreau Chevrolet : No. He made a media coup. He used a populist technique of occupying the space as much as possible with the strongest provocation possible. Its aim was to divide the population by taking the side of the majority against a minority.

Have we seen this before?

This populist technique has two examples. The first, that of Donald Trump, theorized by his advisor Steve Bannon. This theory consists of “flood the zone with shit” as he called it. That is to say, cover the area, the media space in this case, with shit, or the biggest provocation possible. This has the effect of monopolizing the debate, eliminating its competitors and placing itself as the central object for at least twenty-four to forty-eight hours.

What is the second example of this technique that you describe as populist?

It is a technique used by authoritarian regimes or populist leaders. It is pointing out a minority of the population, in this case the unvaccinated, by claiming that what bad happens was their fault.

Emmanuel Macron, according to you, shocked his electorate?

As the opinion polls show, the main opponents of this declaration are young people, voters on the left and those of the National Rally. In contrast, the rather elderly, conservative and right-wing voters, who represent the heart of the electorate in France, are rather favorable to the position of the head of state.

In reality, Emmanuel Macron had to analyze this growing hostility of the population against the unvaccinated and said to himself that he had a media stunt to play. He prepared and executed it. Quite frankly, I don’t know of a politician who doesn’t recognize that this is a good political stunt for him.

Beyond putting oneself back at the center of the political debate, isn’t this a way of attacking one’s opponents, especially the Republicans?

It’s a good way to make The Republicans disappear. The risk for Emmanuel Macron was that The Republicans began to have an importance in the debate, via the vote on the health pass and the positions taken by Valérie Pécresse. LR had to be prevented from regaining a place, a voice and being audible in certain debates.

Isn’t this also a way of diverting the attention paid to certain sensitive subjects?

It was clearly a diversion. The start of the school year was a huge fiasco for the government. The announcement of the protocol unveiled the day before was extremely badly experienced by the community concerned.

This operation was surely also intended to create a diversion from the spectacular increase in the number of cases of Covid-19 in France.

Do you consider his operation to be successful?

It is, but in the short term. What we do not know are the effects of this outing on the perception of his personality and his coherence. We also ignore the impact that this sentence will have on the vision of the French on a policy that has become ineffective and ultimately not really useful.

Was he sincere?

There is certainly an element of conviction. He is surely convinced that the vaccine is the solution to the health crisis.

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