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Emmanuel Macron has sparked uproar by pledging to “p— off” France’s unvaccinated in denying them access to even more aspects of daily life.

The French president’s inflammatory comments came as the government seeks to push through parliament legislation that will make vaccination compulsory to enjoy cultural activities, use inter-city train travel or visit a cafe from January 15.

No longer will it be possible to have a recent test or a recovery from the coronavirus to qualify for the country’s Covid pass.

In an interview with Le Parisien put online on Tuesday night, the centrist French head of state said:  “As for the non-vaccinated, I really want to p— them off.”

He used the verb “emmerder,” a word considered in France as vulgar slang derived from the word “merde” which means “s—.”

The literal translation is “put in the s—” though a more accurate translation is to hassle or bug.

“And we will continue to do this, to the end. This is the strategy,” he said.

Mr Macron added this would mean “limiting as much as possible their access to activities in social life”.

He went even further by saying: “When my freedom threatens that of others, I become an irresponsible person. An irresponsible person is not a citizen.”

The opposition said his comments were unfitting for a French president, with the Right calling it “unworthy, irresponsible and premeditated.”

“No health emergency justifies such words,” tweeted Bruno Retailleau, Senate leader of the Right-wing Republicans. “Emmanuel Macron says he has learned to love the French, but it seems he especially likes to despise them.”

“A president should not say that,” said the far-Right candidate Marine Le Pen, accusing Mr Macron of wanting to make some French “second-class citizens.”

Rival far-Right pundit Eric Zemmour, who is also standing, tweeted that “as president I will stop p—— off the French”.

“Astonishing avowal from Macron. It’s clear: the vaccine pass is a collective punishment against individual freedom,” exclaimed Leftist presidential candidate Jean-Luc Mélenchon.

In the interview, Mr Macron stipulated: “I am not going to put them (the non-vaccinated) in prison, I am not going to forcibly vaccinate them.

“And so, we have to tell them: from January 15, you will no longer be able to go to the restaurant. You will no longer be able to go for a coffee, you will no longer be able to go to the theatre. You will no longer be able to go to the cinema,” he said.

The new legislation has angered vaccine opponents and several French MPs have said they have received death threats over the issue.

Mandatory vaccinations are being introduced in several European countries, with Austria leading the way for over-14s from next month and Germany planning a similar move for adults.

Mr Macron is not the first French head of state to wield the word “emmerder”. President Georges Pompidou did so in 1966 as part of a call to stop bugging the French with red tape. Macron ally Christophe Castaner said on Wednesday that “the phrase didn’t shock anyone when it came out of Pompidou’s mouth”.

But the furore his words caused prompted a fresh delay in passing legislation aimed at tightening the country’s Covid rules.

Coronavirus France Spotlight Chart – Cases default

Parliamentary debate had already been suspended overnight Monday when the opposition joined forces to hold up the passage of the legislation, sparking fury in the Macron camp.

The debate resumed on Tuesday only to be suspended once again early Wednesday following Mr Macron’s remarks, with the president of the session Marc Le Fur saying “conditions for a calm working environment” could not be met.

The controversy has erupted amid an increasingly febrile pre-election atmosphere in France.

Mr Macron made it clear in the interview he wants stand for a second term in April presidential elections but will only declare his intentions once he he has dealt with the health crisis.

“There is no false suspense. I want to,” he told the Le Parisien.

“Once the health situation allows it and I have made everything clear – inside myself and with respect to the political equation – I will say what it (the decision) is.”

While Mr Macron remains the overwhelming favourite to win the election, analysts caution that the two-round presidential race is highly unpredictable. 

France 2022 presidential election voting intention

While a far-Right runner could reach round two, his most dangerous rival could prove to be the LR candidate Valérie Pecresse who on Tuesday unveiled her campaign team, which includes Michel Barnier, the EU’s former Brexit negotiator, in charge of foreign policy.

Ms Pécresse said she was “outraged” that the president had accused unvaccinated people of not being citizens. “You have to accept them as they are – lead them, bring them together and not insult them,” she told CNews.

But analysts said Mr Macron’s tactic was clear.

He wants to play to the 90-odd per cent of French who are vaccinated and are tired of being held hostage to a minority of unvaccinated who clog up hospital intensive care units.

The comments were also calculated to force the opposition to come clean over whether it supports his vaccine pass, which the majority of French back. 

Ms Pécresse has previously called for the unvaccinated to be locked down while the Socialists want vaccination to be compulsory so their complaints are totally hypocritical, argues the Macron camp.

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