UPDATE: Click here to hear what a defiant Macron had to say about pension reform, his one regret and how he accepts being unpopular.
The man behind the pension reform that has sparked weeks of strike in France, a political crisis and burning barricades will on Wednesday address the nation.
Emmanuel Macron will give an interview to TV channel TF1 on their lunchtime show on Wednesday, marking the first time he has spoken directly to the population about pension reform since the political debates began.
So what can we expect?
This will be a live interview, in which Macron answers questions from the French TV stations TF1 and France 2. It will screen at 1pm.
What will he not say?
Macron aides have told the French press that he will not announce that he is dissolving parliament, not will he announce a reshuffle of the government or a referendum on the pension reform.
It hasn’t explicitly been said, but it seems very unlikely that he will announce the thing that protesters have been calling for all week; his own resignation.
So what will he say?
We don’t know at this stage, but it seems that Macron is intent on defending the reforms, and wants to speak directly to the French people in a live interview and explain to them why the pension reforms are necessary.
He was reported as saying on Tuesday that: “Obviously, we have not managed to share the merits of this reform with the public.”
It seems that the president will opt for pédagogie – or teaching. Some disillusioned French voters refer to it as ‘Macronsplaining’.
Macron himself has largely been absent from the pensions debate, either though the reform is one of his flagship proposals.
Part of this is due to the conventions of French politics; traditionally the president proposes ideas and it is up to the prime minister – who is leader of the government – to guide them through the parliamentary process.
This means that the task of defending the controversial reforms in public has largely fallen to prime minister Elisabeth Borne, as well as labour minister Olivier Dussopt and government spokesman Olivier Véran. It was these three who were burned in effigy by protesters in Dijon, along with Macron.
The last time Macron spoke in detail in public on pension reform was during the election campaign for the 2022 presidential elections – he was re-elected on a platform that included pension reform, and he argues that it is this that gives him a mandate, despite the lack of parliamentary support.
Will he announce the withdrawal or changes to the reform?
The mood in government appears to be a defiant one, but there could be concessions made on certain aspects of the reform, possibly including the timetable for beginning the changes.
At a meeting with his senior ministers on Tuesday, Macron called on his troops to provide ideas in the “next two to three weeks” with a view to adopting “a change in method and reform agenda,” according to a participant who spoke to AFP on condition of anonymity.
At present the government intends to begin the first changes to the pension system in September, with the pension age fully raised from 62 to 64 by 2030.