07:09 GMT26 January 2021
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    The National Rally (NR), formerly known as the National Front and led by Emmanuel Macron’s 2017 presidential elections rival Marine Le Pen, has assumed that the president is using the “great national debate”, which was launched to ease tensions amid the anti-government protests, for campaigning in the run-up to the European Parliamentary elections.

    The vice-president of the NR group in the Regional Council of Île-de-France, Jean-Lin Lacapelle, has said that his party had requested that the French media watchdog, the Superior Council of the Audiovisual, to count the time that President Emmanuel Macron spends speaking during the so-called “great national debate” as campaigning for the upcoming elections to the European Parliament. 

    Lacapelle made the statement in an interview with Franceinfo, noting that Macron had for several hours taken part in several rounds of the “great national debate” that he launched. The French president proclaimed the debate to be a platform for dialogue amid the ongoing "yellow vests" protests in France to ease the tensions.

    "I believe that Emmanuel Macron is campaigning. He monopolises the media space on news channels for six, seven, eight hours perpetually with his blah-blah". Jean-Lin Lacapelle said, emphasizing that these debates were aimed at "wiping out the movement of ‘yellow vests’”.

    In January, Macron wrote a letter "to the French" to mark the opening of a three-month national debate, which will focus on topics such as taxes, public spending, and environmental reform, after tens of thousands of "yellow vests" protesters — named after the mandatory high-visibility jackets that French drivers keep in their cars —have been taking to the streets across the nation since November. 

    READ MORE: Macron Calls on French to Participate in National Debate to End Protests

    While the French government has scrapped its planned hike in diesel taxes, which is what initially sparked the protests, the "yellow vests" have since evolved into a broader movement against government policies and rising living costs. The rallies have been marked by violent clashes between protesters and police.

    The European Parliament Elections are set to be held in May. The French centrist and pro-European party En Marche! (On the Move!), founded by Emmanuel Macron, is not currently part of any group in the parliament.


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    media coverage, Campaigning, elections, Yellow Vests Protests, 2019 European Parliament Elections, National Rally, Marine Le Pen, Emmanuel Macron, France
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