Macron: France ready for ‘radically new path’

Author: AFPMon, 2017-07-03 17:00ID: 1499104772220803100VERSAILLES, France: French President Emmanuel Macron said Monday that the country was ready to embark on a “radically new path” after presidential and parliamentary elections swept him and his new centrist party into power.“Until now, we were on the wrong track,” Macron said in a solemn address to both houses of Parliament gathered at the Palace of Versailles.The 39-year-old French leader, elected in May, laid out a series of proposals including a new law that will reduce the number of lawmakers in both houses of Parliament by one third.He also proposed that the electoral system be changed to allow more proportional representation “so that all tendencies are fairly represented (in Parliament).”Macron said he wanted all the “deep transformations… that our institutions badly need” to be completed within a year.“I want… us to avoid half-measures and cosmetic arrangements,” he said. “These reforms will be submitted to a vote in parliament but if necessary I will have recourse to a vote by our fellow citizens in a referendum.”Macron said shrinking Parliament — one of his campaign proposals — would have “positive effects on the general quality of parliamentary work.”The Senate has 348 members, while the lower house National Assembly has 577.Macron also said he will “this autumn” lift a state of emergency in effect since the jihadist attacks in Paris in November 2015 that killed 130 people.“I will re-establish the freedoms of the French people by lifting the state of emergency this autumn, because these freedoms are the precondition of the existence of a strong democracy,” Macron said in his address.Macron also ordered a review of French military strategy to fight evolving threats.The president said he would maintain France’s military interventions against extremists abroad. He also insisted on the importance of maintaining “the path of negotiation, of dialogue” for long-term solutions.He said “threats have never been so great” and said countries need to cooperate more than ever.A judicial source earlier said a man has been charged with plotting to assassinate Macron at France’s Bastille Day military parade which the French leader is set to attend with US President Donald Trump.The 23-year-old is a suspected far-right extremist who told investigators he wanted to kill Macron at the July 14 national day parade in Paris, a source close to the investigation said.Police arrested the man at his home on Wednesday in the northwest Paris suburb of Argenteuil after being alerted by users of an Internet chatroom where the suspect allegedly said he wanted to buy a firearm.Three kitchen knives were found in his vehicle and analysis of his computer found that he had conducted Internet searches as part of his plot, the source said.Macron, France’s youngest president at 39, invited Trump as his guest of honor for the July 14 parade which commemorates the storming of the Bastille prison in 1789 — the start of the French Revolution and a turning point in world history.The two men have radically different political views and interests, but Macron appears intent on trying to build a relationship with the US president and has warned against efforts to isolate him at a meeting of G20 nations this weekend.The July 14 assassination plot recalls the plot of “The Day of the Jackal,” a book by spy writer Frederick Forsyth in which a hitman attempts to kill former French president Charles de Gaulle, the target of numerous real-life plots.On Bastille Day in 2002, president Jacques Chirac was the target of an assassination attempt on Paris’s Champs-Elysees avenue.Macron has frequently greeted crowds and discussed with protesters, but France remains in a state of emergency after a string of attacks since 2015.The July 14 parade takes place on the Champs-Elysees, which has been the site of two recent attacks targeting police.Late last month a man drove a car laden with weapons and gas canisters into a police van on the world-famous avenue.In April, a known extremist shot dead a policeman on the Champs-Elysees just days before the first round of the presidential election.The man arrested outside Paris last week was charged on Saturday with plotting to commit a terrorist act, the judicial source said.He had already been convicted in 2016 for condoning terrorism and sentenced to three years in prison, of which 18 months were suspended. He had applauded neo-Nazi mass murderer Anders Behring Breivik, who killed 77 people in a bomb and gun rampage in 2011 in Norway.France has been under a state of emergency that has been repeatedly renewed since terror attacks in Paris in November 2015 in which 130 people were killed.A relative newcomer to politics who won election on a tide of disaffection with mainstream politics, Macron has enjoyed a honeymoon with voters, drawing particular praise for standing up to President Trump and Russian leader Vladimir Putin.But a Kantar Sofres-Onepoint poll published Thursday showed his approval ratings starting to dip, falling three points in a month to 54 percent.“We’re seeing a strange, almost schizophrenic mix, of goodwill and distrust (toward Macron),” Pierre Giacometti, a co-founder of the No Com polling firm, told Le Journal du Dimanche weekly, adding: “The French already want results.”
Main category: World

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