The angry reaction was attributed to the controversial pension reform implemented earlier this year
French President Emmanuel Macron received a hostile reception at the opening of the Rugby World Cup on Friday evening, as the crowd booed, whistled and jeered during his address.
The hisses began as Macron was walking onto the pitch at the Stade de France in Paris and got louder when he began his speech, making him barely audible.
According to AFP, a similar reaction ensued when the president appeared on TV screens in special fan zones set up in Paris and Marseille.
“King Macron has been booed by the French people! We are never going to leave him alone!” tweeted Manuel Bompard, a left-wing member of the National Assembly, the lower house of the country’s parliament.
Macron’s popularity has dwindled after the implementation of highly unpopular pension reform, which would see the retirement age gradually increase to 67. The move sparked widespread protests earlier this year, with the opposition calling for a referendum. In March, Macron controversially used Article 49 of the French Constitution to enact the reform, while bypassing the parliament. The move sparked additional protests and calls for his resignation.
“The people have not forgotten the insults and the pension reform. He had the welcome he deserved,” Bastien Lachaud, an MP from the leftist ‘La France insoumise’ (LFI) party, said. Stephanie Galzy, an MP from the right-wing National Rally (RN), called the booing “a symbol.”
The opening ceremony preceded the match between France and New Zealand, which the French team won 27-13.
Macron’s supporters criticized the Rugby fans for the angered reaction, with Mathie Lefevre, an MP from the ruling Renaissance party, saying that “to boo the president of the republic is to boo France.”
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