Macron’s lockdown backtrack leads to fight for political survival as Le Pen scents blood

Critics from all political sides castigated the French president for his decision not to introduce a full shutdown in January, against the advice of scientists. Marine Le Pen, his closest rival in next April’s presidential elections, added insult to injury, telling Mr Macron that the EU’s disastrous vaccine rollout had become his Waterloo. The leader of the National Rally party said: “The measures announced by Macron are mainly the consequence of a vaccination Waterloo.”

France has seen a surge in coronavirus infections, mostly caused by the spread of the more contagious variant first identified in Britain.

Over the past week, the country has recorded more than 38,000 cases per day, nearly triple the number three months earlier.

With hospital wards filling up and total deaths approaching 100,000, Mr Macron has been forced to take drastic action yet again.

Yesterday he announced that restrictions covering a third of the population would be extended nationwide for four weeks starting this Saturday.

Furthermore, he said schools would be closed for at least three weeks.

Mr Macron had placed hopes on the vaccine rollout gaining enough momentum to avoid the need for another lockdown.

READ MORE: Emmanuel Macron blasted for behaving like a ‘monarch’

The political scientist, from the Center for Political Research at Sciences Po in Paris, said: “What appears today is, on the contrary, the idea of a head of state who plays it by ear and who doesn’t really know where he’s going.

“The judgment that the French will make of the handling of the crisis will be the pillar of the 2022 election.”

France has vaccinated roughly 8.5 million people or about 13 percent of its population, according to health authorities.

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