• Reuters


French President Emmanuel Macron said Tuesday he wanted to “piss off” people who haven’t been vaccinated against COVID-19, in a cutting remark that prompted howls of condemnation from opposition rivals less than four months before the next presidential election.

“The unvaccinated, I really want to piss them off. And so, we’re going to continue doing so, until the end. That’s the strategy,” Macron told Le Parisien newspaper in an interview published late Tuesday.

Last year, France put in place a health pass that prevents people without a PCR test or proof of vaccination from entering restaurants, cafes and other venues. The government wants to turn the measure into a vaccine passport, allowing only the vaccinated to have a health pass.

“I won’t send (the unvaccinated) to prison, I won’t vaccinate by force. So we need to tell them, from Jan. 15, you won’t be able to go to the restaurant anymore, you won’t be able to down one, won’t be able to have a coffee, go to the theatre, the cinema …”

The expression “emmerder”, from “merde” (“s—“), can also be translated as “to get on their nerves” and is considered “very informal” by French dictionary Larousse. Its use prompted immediate criticism by rivals on social media.

Macron has been criticized in the past for off-the-cuff remarks which many French people said came across as arrogant, cutting or scornful. He has later expressed contrition on several occasions.

“A president shouldn’t say that,” far-right leader Marine Le Pen wrote on Twitter. “Emmanuel Macron is unworthy of his office.”

In the detailed interview — Macron’s first of the new year — the president also said he had a good mind to run for re-election in April, but did not explicitly announce his intention to run.

“I would like to do it,” Macron said.

As the clear favorite in the polls, Macron has not yet officially said he is running, although his lieutenants are already preparing a campaign.

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